Woman dies while diving with chartered trip

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

Port St. Joe -- The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a scuba diver's death Saturday off the coast of Port St. Joe.

57-year-old Paula J. Grimes from Tallahassee lost her life during a dive trip Saturday.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Grimes was scuba diving in the Sherman Tug area with Daly’s Dock and Dives out of Port St. Joe.

A member of the dive party reported Grimes was found unresponsive, inverted and had dropped her gear.

The Coast Guard is still investigating the incident, so all of the details are not available yet. But members of the local dive community were shocked and saddened to learn the news, and say that there are many safeguards available to keep this type of tragedy at bay.

"To assist with our CPR and first aid, oxygen is always recommended for dive related injuries so we have a large oxygen unit with about four hours supply in it in case there's two victims and we're a long ways from shore to keep oxygen flowing the whole time. We also carry the defibrillator on board at all times and the crew is trained to use it," said Owner of Panama City Dive Charters, Patrick Green.

A defibrillator and oxygen tanks aren't required by the Coast Guard. Their only requirement is a first aid kit.

"We elected to purchase the first aid kit and the larger O2 bottles and the AED just because you know, I’m the captain on the boat, I see my customers every day and I want to do everything I can to keep them safe," added Green.

Daly's Dock and Dive Center would not provide any information about their emergency equipment and any other details about this incident and we were unable to reach grimes' family.

According to the Divers Alert Network, or DAN, the number of diving related deaths in the U.S. and Canada average about 100 per year.

According to DAN, the overwhelming cause of death as determined by the coroner is drowning. Acute heart conditions are the second most common cause of death while diving.

While the numbers may sound daunting, it's important to note that PADI alone certifies nearly one-million divers a year.

The medical examiner's office completed an autopsy Monday morning. While authorities say the cause of death appears to be accidental, they could not yet release the exact cause of death.

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