Death of Underwater Photog Ruled Accidental

The Palm Beach Post has reported that Florida authorities cannot determine how 53-year-old underwater photographer Wes Skiles died last summer, so they have ruled his death an accidental drowning.

Skiles died July 21 near Palm Beach, shortly after completing an assignment for National Geographic Television to photograph an underwater research expedition. He remained on location with researchers, signaling at one point that he intended to surface for more film. His diving companions found him unconscious on the sea floor a short time later, but they were unable to revive him.

An medical inquiry that included toxicology tests was inconclusive. “There was nothing to indicate natural causes or outside forces,” Harold Ruslander, chief investigator for the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner told The Palm Beach Post. “All we’re going to be able to say is that it was an accidental drowning.”

Skiles explored, mapped, and filmed caves around the world for three decades. He created the PBS series ‘Water’s Journey,’ shot underwater scenes for feature films, and was a long-time contributor to both National Geographic magazine and National Geographic Television.

“He set a standard for underwater photography, cinematography and exploration that is unsurpassed,” National Geographic magazine editor-in-chief Chris Johns said in a statement in July just after Skiles died.

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