Widow of Underwater Photog Wes Skiles Blames His Drowning on Defective Gear

Renowned underwater photographer Wes Skiles died in a 2010 diving accident because of faulty breathing apparatus that the manufacturer knew was prone to failure, his widow Terri Skiles alleges in a lawsuit filed last week in Palm Beach County (Florida) circuit court. She is seeking unspecified damages.

Terri Skiles also alleges that the manufacturer conspired to destroy evidence of that failure. Because of that, she says she will have difficulty proving that the manufacturer, its suppliers, and a distributor are to blame for her husband’s death.

Wes Skiles, a regular contributor to National Geographic, died July 21, 2010 at the age of 53 while diving near Boynton Beach, Florida, about a mile offshore with three other divers.  The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner ruled several months later that Skiles’ death was an accidental drowning. “There was nothing to indicate natural causes or outside forces,” the medical examiner’s chief investigator told the Palm Beach Post in November, 2010.

When Skiles died, he was using an O2ptima FX rebreather apparatus that he had borrowed from another diver. Terri Skiles alleges in her lawsuit that “Due to an unexpected catastrophic failure of the subject O2ptima FX rebreather during the dive, Wesley Skiles passed out underwater and died.” She is suing the manufacturer, Dive Rite, an affiliated online retailer called Dive Rite Express and Mark Derrick, the owner of Dive Rite Express. Also named as defendants are two companies that supply critical electronic components that Dive Rite uses to make the O2ptima FX rebreather.

Dive Rite declined to comment.

To read the about Skiles’ other allegations and her lawsuit, visit PDNOnline.

Related stories:
Underwater Photographer Wes Skiles Dies on Shoot
Death of Underwater Photog Ruled Accidental

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