May 23rd, 2016

Diving Equipment Maker Cleared in Death of Underwater Photog Wes Skiles

A Palm Beach County jury has cleared diving equipment manufacturer Lamartek of wrongdoing in the 2010 drowning death of Wes Skiles, a renowned underwater photographer and cameraman, reports the Palm Beach Post. Skiles’s widow, Terri Skiles, filed suit in 2012 alleging that her husband had died because of faulty breathing apparatus manufactured by Lamartek. She claimed the Lamartek knew the apparatus—called the O2ptime FX rebreather—was prone to failure. She was seeking $25 million in compensation for her and the couple’s children. The death had been declared an accidental drowning by The Palm Beach County Medial Examiner in November 2010.

The lawsuit went to trial last week. Jurors found that Lamartek, which is also known as Dive Rite, was not responsible for Wes Skiles’s death. The jury also concluded the rebreather was not dangerous, according to The Palm Beach Post report

Skiles was a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and National Geographic television. He grew up exploring the caves of northern Florida. National Geographic credits him with developing and refining a technique for using multiple strobes to dramatically light the underwater environment of caves.

Related:
Underwater Photographer Wes Skiles Dies on Shoot

Death of Underwater Photog Ruled Accidental

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

August 2nd, 2012

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

UPDATE: On Friday, May 20, 2016, a Palm Beach County jury has cleared diving equipment manufacturer Lamartek of wrongdoing in the 2010 drowning death of Wes Skiles, a renowned underwater photographer and cameraman, reports the Palm Beach Post. Jurors found that Lamartek, which is also known as Dive Rite, was not responsible for Wes Skiles’s death. See the full report here.

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