Jason and Will were good friends who had met at the scuba club at the university both were attending. Both loved scuba diving and the open water. As friends they were close, and they did things together regularly, like working out at the gym, or grabbing a bite to eat at lunchtime on campus. They had gone on all types of dives with the scuba club, including a few underwater cave traverses, which were well planned and led by experienced cave divers. Jason didn’t particularly care for cave diving, as it was very dangerous, and in his opinion, the sights to be seen in an underwater cave are, to put it mildly, boring.
Jason had also met his girlfriend Sally in the scuba club, which was great because they had diving as a shared hobby. They’d gone on a Bahamas diving vacation together already. As a single dad of a 7 year old daughter, Jason was glad to have found her, as she was very loving toward his child, Laura. She was providing something important to Laura – the presence of a female in her life again.
Jason and Will planned a diving trip to a spring in Florida, north of where they were attending school. Sally had stayed at his apartment to take care of Laura, and she also had some work to do on a paper for a class. When they left that morning to drive to the dive spot, both were in high spirits, and anxious to get to the spring and hit the water. But first, they had to stop at a dive shop near the spring to rent the air tanks they’d use that day. One tank apiece was enough, since they wouldn’t be diving deeper than about thirty feet.
Will was a much more experienced diver than Jason. Will had been in the Navy and had a certificate proving that he was a “Son of Neptune”, after having crossed the equator for the first time as a sailor. In a sailing tradition still current today, a ceremonial subpoena is issued to the sailor whereby he may potentially be questioned by King Neptune himself. The certificate is awarded at the conclusion of the ceremony. He had also grown up on a Hawaiian island, and learned to scuba dive at a very young age. Jason had received his scuba diving certification just two years earlier. Both were up on the rules of diving and safety measures that were to always be obeyed.
After they had stopped at the dive shop on the way for the scuba tank rentals, they went to a section of the park in which one part of the spring was located. There were lots of people there swimming, and the two divers submerged into relatively shallow water, no more than twenty feet deep. That site got boring quickly, and with the kids swimming there above, it wasn’t much fun. Will and Jason surfaced and talked about going to the part of the spring where the cave was. Jason was hesitant because of the cave in that spot, and they each had only a little more than a half tank of air left. The two made a pact that they’d go over and dive at the spot, but they would not go into the cave.
Will had an underwater light, and just as he had it with him at the previous spot, he took it at the new spot as well. While floating with their inflated BC vests before submerging, the two once again agreed that they would do no more with the cave than to just look around the entrance, but that absolutely neither would enter the cave. Will released the air from his vest a second before Jason did, and by the time Jason was able to fully submerge, he could see Will bee-lining it to the cave as though he was drawn to it; either acting in defiance of what the two had discussed, or as an unavoidable destiny he could not escape. Jason, perplexed by what he was seeing, grabbed his dive knife and started to bang it against his air tank to get Will’s attention… to get him to stop… but he just kept right on going, right into the cave. Jason was confused and scared for Will’s safety, and he knew that with the light inside the cave, Will would get lost when the silt from the floor of the cave got stirred up. Will knew about the silt too. Anyone who had ever been on a cave dive knew. Jason immediately surfaced, because he knew that there had been some other divers there, and if he could get a rope from someone, he could affix it to himself, and to an anchor point outside the cave, and go in after Will. Going in without a rope would be suicide. But no one had a rope. He asked if anyone had a spare tank of air, but no one did. He asked for someone to call 911 to get rescue divers out and someone said they were calling. Jason went back down and stayed by the cave entrance, trying to show Will the way out, if possible. But as his own air was now at a level where he had to surface, he braced for the worst. When the rescue divers arrived, it didn’t take them long to find Will, drowned.
As Jason watched the rescue divers pull his friend’s lifeless body from the spring, he couldn’t believe how such a great day had turned so tragic in a split-second decision to ignore the agreement both had made to each other to protect themselves from entering a cave neither of them would have normally entered, considering the factors involved. Jason will forever ask himself the question, why did Will do it? And he will never know the answer. The rescue divers told Jason that if he’d have gone into the cave after Will, they would have pulled two bodies out.
What do you think? Was there something that Jason could have done to save Will’s life that he didn’t think of doing , or try to do? Do you think he should have entered the cave in an attempt to rescue his friend? Let me know what you think.