Diving deaths ruled accidental by coroner

NANAIMO – B.C. Coroner's office releases findings of investigation into 2013 scuba diving accident that claim two lives.

The B.C. Coroners Office released the finding of its investigation into a diving accident near Snake Island that claimed the lives of two men from Washington State.

The incident happened Oct. 11, 2013, when three men made a deep dive next to the island.

Twelve minutes into the dive, Harold John Burkholder, 38, of Kent, Wash., lost consciousness at a depth of 60 metres and continued to descend. His diving partner Robert Scott Young, 60, of Olympia, Wash., descended to a depth of about 78 metres to try and help Burkholder, but was unable to revive him and made a rapid, uncontrolled ascent. Young suffered acute congestive heart failure due to “extensive gas embolism to heart, brain and arteriovenous system,” B.C. Coroner Larry Crawford wrote in his report, which was released Friday.

Burkholder, whose body was recovered two days after the accident, became unconscious due to oxygen toxicity and nitrogen narcosis, which caused “vomiting and tracheobronchial aspiration of gastric contents.”