terça-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2008

`Her death sucks'

JUST hours after Gabe Watson lost his wife Tina in a diving accident he asked the other passengers on the dive boat to gather below deck. He stood, looking down at the floor, and said: ``As you know, my wife died today. This really sucks.'

Then he walked away without saying another word. Later he was seen playing cards with passengers as the boat headed back to Townsville Port to deliver Mrs Watson's body.

Experienced American divers John and Tina Graves yesterday painted a picture of bizarre scenes on board the dive boat Spoil Sport in the hours after Mrs Watson died.

They were giving evidence at an inquest in Townsville into the unexplained death of Mrs Watson at the Yongala shipwreck on October 22, 2003.

Mr Graves told the inquiry, presided over by coroner David Glasgow, how Mr Watson asked all passengers on board the Spoil Sport to gather in the saloon.

He said Mr Watson's speech consisted of the two lines.

Mrs Graves recounted a conversation with Mr Watson while dive staff were trying to resuscitate his wife.

She said she saw Mr Watson leaning against her cabin door with another passenger and she sensed something was wrong.

She said she asked if everything was okay and Gabe told her there had been an accident and that they were `working' on Tina on another boat.

He told her Tina had grabbed his regulator from his mouth and he got a huge mouthful of saltwater, so he pushed her away and she sank out of reach.

Mrs Graves said he then paused before looking down and saying, `I can't believe I pushed her away'.

Mrs Graves said she left the room to grab a drink of water for Mr Watson and when she returned he was crouched outside the door.

He told Mrs Graves that he had tried to hold on to Tina but she was `too heavy' and had `just slid out of my hands'.

Mrs Graves said she was surprised at his answer because Tina was so petite.

Mrs Graves has completed diver rescue training, similar to the qualification held by Mr Watson.

She said she was taught that `you don't let someone slip away'.

Mrs Graves said all the divers were given a `very comprehensive briefing' from dive staff.

The inquest also saw about two hours of an interview conducted by Townsville police five days after Tina's death.

Tina's mother Cindy Thomas was not present while Watson detailed to police details of the dive.

Mr Watson said he began to feel Tina `sink' and tried to indicate to her to use her buoyancy compensator but when she squeezed the control nothing happened.

He said he realised something was wrong and attempted to get back to the anchor rope, but Tina was having trouble swimming so he tried to activate her buoyancy compensator.

Mr Watson told police that nearby divers who witnessed him leaning over and grabbing his wife's dive equipment
might have thought it looked `odd'.

"I was kind of thinking (it) just may look unusual if somebody's happened to look," he said.

"I was kind of thinking ... these people probably can see us ... or at least thinking something odd (was) going on."

Mr Watson told police he considered dumping Tina's equipment and taking her to the surface.

When asked by Townsville Sgt Glenn Lawrence why he didn't, he played down his rescue diver qualifications, stating he hadn't been taught to rescue others but only how to save himself and how to search for others.

He said Tina then knocked his mask and regulator from his mouth and by the time he righted himself Tina was sinking.

"I realised she was going down faster than I could catch up with her," he said.

Mr Watson said he then `shook' an Asian male diver who was on the anchor line to try to alert him to the emergency.

Police have not been able to track down this diver.

Mr Watson said he then ascended at a rate `border-line to me getting in trouble'.

But his dive computer showed he had risen to the surface at a controlled pace.

The inquest continues today.

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