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Call center agent dies in diving accident

The body of a 35-year-old female diver was found yesterday, a day after she had gone missing following a dive off the coast of Mabini, Batangas.

A massive search involving 40 professional divers ended just before noon when Agnes Maria San Pedro was found at the sea bottom, about 30 meters from the surface.

This was confirmed by Jasper Barcelon, designated spokesman of the search team.

“Agnes was found by Analyn Sison, a technical diver, near where she was last seen,” Barcelon said.

Barcelon said San Pedro had apparently unbuckled her buoyancy compensator, suggesting the possibility that she may have reached the surface.

“When she was found, her mask was already on the forehead and blood was oozing from her nostrils,” Barcelon said, adding that the victim’s weight belt was still strapped.

San Pedro, a call center agent, joined a group of divers led by diving instructor Eric Montes for the 30-meter dive, according to Barcelon.

Thirty meters is roughly the equivalent height of a 10-storey building.

“The dive was smooth and easy, I was told,” Barcelon said. “There’s a video of Agnes making the OK-sign after getting a handshake from Montes.”

He said the condition was calm and visibility was excellent. “They even encountered another group of divers while there,” he added.

During the ascent, however, Barcelon said the victim’s buddy, Gregory Sarmiento, noticed that San Pedro was ascending dangerously fast.

“He (Sarmiento) tried to get her attention by banging his tank, but Agnes kept on with her pace. He tried to catch her, but had to slow down for his own sake,” Barcelon narrated.

The ascent to the surface follows strict protocols to avoid problems caused by the changes in ambient pressure.

The victim has been diving for three years and is completing an advance open water diving course, according to Barcelon. “In fact, they had a successful dive the night before,” he disclosed.

Scuba diving accidents are rare.

In the only other diving death this year, a vacationing Dallas police officer was hit by a speedboat in Panglao, Bohol last August. (REY BANCOD)