SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - The Singaporean who died while on a diving course off Indonesia's Bintan island had a weak pulse when he was helped back to the boat by his dive buddy.
Mr Yeo Boon Han, 36, had dived with his group in waters near Berakit, at the northern tip of Bintan, to a depth of 25m when he indicated he wanted to surface.
On ascending to the surface, he became unconscious, and his buddy had to tow him back to the boat.
"He was unresponsive but still had a pulse," a spokesman for GS-Diving, which conducted the three-day, two-night Advanced Open Water diving course, told The New Paper on Monday (March 25).
The spokesman said that Mr Yeo was immediately put in the recovery position.
When they noticed he was not breathing, the dive crew took turns to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him and administered emergency oxygen.
As the nearest hospital was two hours away from shore, the spokesman said Mr Yeo was transferred to a fishing vessel and taken to the clinic nearest to the jetty, where a doctor pronounced him dead.
The incident happened on Saturday, the second day of the course.
The group of five student divers and seven GS-Diving crew members had completed their first dive earlier that morning.
It was conducted in a shallower area to get divers familiar with being in the water again.
They then enjoyed a two-hour break, during which they had breakfast.
"Everything seemed normal with Mr Yeo during the break. The crew are trained to spot any signs of abnormalities and did not see anything wrong with him. He was having his breakfast and chatting happily with the rest," said the spokesman.
The second dive started at about 12.35pm, when the group used a descent line to get to depths of 25m.
The diving instructor said in a statement: "After reaching the bottom, I checked that everyone was all right and signalled for them to follow me, and after swimming for about 17 minutes, I signalled for them to gather closer to me."
During this time, the instructor noticed Mr Yeo at the back of the group with his buddy, a certified rescue diver. He was pointing his finger upwards, signalling that he wanted to go back to the surface.
Upon ascending to the surface, his buddy towed him back to the boat.
"None of the equipment had malfunctioned, we always do a pre-dive buddy safety check before the dive as part of our safety protocol," said the diving instructor.
As all divers are required to sign a medical liability form when signing up for the course, it is understood that Mr Yeo, an accountant, had no known medical conditions.
TNP understands that the cause of death has yet to be determined.
Ms Vivien Tan, a GS divemaster, extended her condolences: "We are deeply saddened by Mr Yeo's demise despite our team's effort to resuscitate him through administration of CPR and emergency oxygen. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to his family."