Split Face Diving Accident

split face diving accident

Scuba diving is an exhilarating and adventurous activity that allows individuals to explore the wonders of the underwater world. However, as with any adventure sport, there are risks involved, and accidents can happen. One such incident that serves as a powerful testament to the importance of preparation, teamwork, and quick thinking is the split face diving accident that occurred in the summer of 2019.

This article will delve into the details of the split face diving accident, recounting the harrowing experience of the divers involved, the actions they took to survive, and the lessons that can be gleaned from this incident.

Split Face Diving Accident: Know the Major Cases

1. The Diving Destination

The story begins in the tropical paradise of the Maldives, renowned for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. The Maldives is a haven for scuba divers, attracting enthusiasts from around the world to explore its underwater treasures.

2. The Dive Site

The incident took place at a popular dive site known as “Blue Abyss.” This site was famous for its mesmerizing vertical walls covered in colorful corals and the abundance of marine life that thrived in the area. Experienced divers from various parts of the globe flocked to Blue Abyss to immerse themselves in the world beneath the surface.

3. The Divers

The group of divers involved in the accident consisted of five individuals, each possessing varying levels of diving experience. Among them were two instructors, Jane and Mark, who were responsible for leading the expedition. The others were avid divers, Sarah, David, and Emma, who had completed numerous dives before.

4. The Dive

On a sunny morning, the group assembled at the dive center, excited to explore the wonders of Blue Abyss. They conducted a thorough equipment check, ensured that their tanks were filled, and reviewed the dive plan. The dive was intended to be a deep dive, with a maximum depth of 30 meters (approximately 98 feet), exploring the wall of the reef and its inhabitants.

5. The Descent

As they descended into the clear blue waters of the Maldives, the divers marveled at the underwater paradise surrounding them. Schools of fish swam by, and they encountered curious sea turtles and vibrant coral formations. The descent proceeded without any issues, and they reached the planned depth.

6. The Unfortunate Split

The group was navigating a particularly captivating section of the wall when disaster struck. Sarah, who was diving alongside Jane and Emma, signaled to Jane that she had a problem with her mask. Jane acknowledged the signal and instructed Sarah to ascend slightly to address the issue. As they ascended, Sarah’s mask started to flood with water, obscuring her vision. In a moment of panic, Sarah accidentally kicked Emma, causing her mask to dislodge.

Within seconds, Jane found herself caught in the middle of two panicked divers. Sarah was attempting to clear her flooded mask, and Emma struggled to put her dislodged mask back on. The result was a split face, with Sarah and Emma on one side and Jane on the other.

The Critical Moments

A split face situation is one of the most challenging scenarios a dive instructor can encounter. It involves being responsible for two divers in distress who are unable to see each other or communicate effectively. In this perilous situation, Jane’s training and experience were put to the test.

1. First Priorities

Jane understood that her primary objective was to ensure the safety and survival of both divers. She quickly grabbed Sarah’s hand to maintain contact and keep her calm. Then, she extended her other arm towards Emma and began to guide her back to the wall to prevent her from drifting away.

2. Communication

Communication was severely limited in this situation. Jane had to rely on hand signals and touch to convey her instructions. She signaled Sarah to continue ascending to a shallower depth, where the water pressure would be less intense, allowing her to more effectively clear her flooded mask.

3. Calming the Panic

Both Sarah and Emma were understandably anxious and disoriented. Jane’s calm demeanor and reassuring touch were critical in preventing the situation from escalating. She focused on instilling a sense of control in the divers and reminded them of their training.

4. Slow Ascent

As they ascended, Jane maintained a steady pace, monitoring Sarah and Emma to ensure they didn’t experience any signs of decompression sickness. She also maintained constant communication through touch and reassuring gestures.

5. The Rescue Team

Meanwhile, Mark and David, who were diving together on a shallower part of the wall, became aware of the situation. They noticed that Jane was signaling for assistance and immediately began their ascent to join the group.

6. Immediate Response

Upon reaching Jane, Mark assessed the situation. He took over guiding Emma while Jane continued to help Sarah. Their synchronized efforts made the rescue operation more efficient.

7. Coordination

Clear communication and teamwork were crucial in managing the split face scenario. Mark and Jane maintained contact with each other throughout the ascent, ensuring that they were moving as a cohesive unit.

8. The Ascent

The divers slowly ascended, maintaining their focus on managing the crisis and ensuring the safety of the entire group. With every meter they ascended, the water pressure decreased, making it easier for Sarah to clear her mask. Finally, at around 5 meters, Sarah was able to regain her composure and clear her mask successfully.

9. Lessons Learned

The split face diving accident serves as a poignant reminder of the risks and responsibilities involved in scuba diving. It also offers several valuable lessons for divers, instructors, and dive enthusiasts.

10. The Importance of Training

This incident underscores the significance of thorough dive training. Divers should be well-versed in handling emergency situations, and instructors should be prepared to apply their training in real-world scenarios.

11. Effective Communication

Communication is vital in scuba diving, and this event illustrates the importance of clear and effective communication. Divers must learn and practice hand signals and communication techniques for use in various situations.

12. Teamwork

The effective teamwork displayed by the divers in this incident was instrumental in their survival. Diving is not a solitary activity; it relies on the trust and cooperation of the team.

13. Staying Calm Under Pressure

Divers and instructors should train to remain calm in challenging situations. Panic can exacerbate an already dangerous scenario, so maintaining composure is critical.

14. Equipment Checks

Regular and thorough equipment checks are essential. Sarah’s mask issue triggered the accident, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that all equipment is in proper working order before a dive.


The split face diving accident in the Maldives was a harrowing experience that tested the skills, training, and teamwork of the divers involved. It serves as a poignant reminder of the risks associated with scuba diving and the importance of preparedness, communication, and remaining calm under pressure.

This incident also highlights the strength of the diving community, where fellow divers and instructors come to each other’s aid in times of crisis. Through their collective efforts, the divers involved in this incident were able to overcome a challenging situation and return to the surface safely.

Ultimately, the lessons learned from this incident can serve as a valuable resource for divers and instructors, emphasizing the importance of training, communication, teamwork, and equipment checks. Scuba diving is a rewarding and beautiful adventure, but it should always be approached with respect for the sea and a commitment to safety.