High-risk diver and human factors expert Gareth Lock has joined forces with American widow Ashley Bugge to make a film – titled If Only… – about the sudden death of her husband Brian, an experienced open circuit diver, who drowned in Hawaii two years ago.
Gareth, who lives in Wiltshire and who travels the world sharing his knowledge of how human behaviour can affect diving, has privately funded the documentary and hopes it raises awareness of the important role human behaviour can play in diving.
He said: “One of the inspirations for this film was ‘Just a Routine Operation’ by Martin Bromiley, which had a huge impact on developing human factors practice in healthcare.
“I hope that If Only… has the same effect in diving and further afield too – showing that the multiple factors which lead to an accident are not easy to see at the time, and that by discussing these context-rich stories, we can improve safety for all. We must understand how it made sense for those involved to do what they did, even if it appears irrational in hindsight.”
If Only… launches virtually on Wednesday 20 May at 6.49pm UK time on the second anniversary of Brian’s death.
It is the latest awareness campaign by Gareth, who is also a published author, to encourage the diving community to embrace personal responsibility in diving, ensure continuous professional development of instructors and to understand that it’s not just technical problems which can crop up in diving.
Gareth has been supported by Ashley Bugge, Brian’s widow and mother to his three children. She said: “For me, it’s not about who is to blame and who did this or who did that. This is not a blame game for me.
“This is about Brian’s life and death being the inspiration for everyone in the diving community to consider how their thoughts, feelings, instincts and behaviour all play a critical role in being safe in the water.
“I’m hoping the pain and trauma of losing Brian will encourage divers to never take anything for granted. Every day must be a school day when it comes to diving.”
Gareth went to Hawaii in November last year to film the story of Brian, who was an officer with the US Pacific Fleet’s Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems department. He died on 20 May 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii, while off duty on a training dive. He was 35 and Ashley, a diver herself, was weeks away from having their third child.
On the day of the accident, Brian was using a closed-circuit rebreather. Unfortunately, he did not turn on his oxygen supply for his rebreather before entering the water, and within minutes, he passed out and sank to the ocean floor. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. The manufacturer of the equipment was not found to be at fault in Brian’s death.
Gareth said: “I hope this film will act as an example of what can be done when a story can be told, and save lives in the process. This is only the start of a very long journey to improve diving safety by looking at the role of human factors in diving incidents.”
Gareth, who lives with his family in Malmesbury, had a 25-year career with the RAF as a squadron leader and flight instructor. His company – The Human Diver – educates divers, or any team undertaking any activity, the importance of decision-making, situational awareness, communication skills, leadership, teamwork and managing stress and fatigue.