Investigator faults diver in fatal accident

Posted: Wednesday, April 05, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- A federal investigator, who looked into events surrounding the death of Kodiak diver Bill Wever, concluded no foul play or negligence on the part of the people at the scene of the accident.

Wever, 54, who was under the 81-foot trawler Lisa Melinda to cut line from its propeller Feb. 3, was killed when the skipper attempted to move the boat.

It was Wever's lack of reasonable precautions rather than the skipper's negligence that caused Wever's death, according to Dick Stiefken of the Occupational Safety and Administration.

Wever made ''no effort to ensure that all (mechanical) energy sources capable of (injuring) him had been controlled or isolated,'' Stiefken's said in his report on the accident. The report also said Wever should have been using a dive flag and should have had a diving partner.

According to the report, the accident occurred after two trawlers coming into port to deliver their catch, the Lisa Melinda and Miss Sara, requested a diver be ready when they arrived to remove line from their propellers.

Wever was waiting for them at the dock and, ''prior to entering the water, the diver informed the skipper of the Miss Sara that he would remove his line first and then move on to the boat (tied) in front, the Lisa Melinda.

Wever dove and removed the line from the Miss Sara. Then, without leaving the water, he swam more than 100 feet to the Lisa Melinda and began removing line from the vessel's propeller. While he was doing that, a dock worker informed the skipper of the Lisa Melinda that another boat was coming in and the Lisa Melinda would have to move.

The skipper of the Lisa Melinda told Stiefken he did not realize Wever had moved on to his boat.

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