The Timaru man, Mr Raymond Rathgen, died on 3 October after diving near the sunken naval boat Tui in about 32 metres of water off the Tutukaka coast. The 40 year old was part of a group diving from the charter vessel Hendrik J, operated by Dive! Tutukaka, New Zealandâs largest dive charter operator. Mr Rathgen was reported to have risen quickly to the surface despite other divers trying to slow him. Jeroen Jongejans, Dive! Tutukaka spokesman and president of the New Zealand Underwater Association, said conditions for the dive had been ideal with good visibility and little swell. Mr Jongejans said it was the first diving death in Tutukaka in two years and the third in the past four years.
âFor some reason he became uncomfortable and tried to do a rapid ascent. Our staff tried to slow him down, but when he hit the surface he was unconscious.â
Mr Jongejans said the death was the first problem associated with a dive at the Tui after hundreds of dives on the vessel since it was sunk in 1999.