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Geoduck Diver, Samuel Silverstein, in Critical Condition at Harborview

On Tuesday morning, April 29, Samuel Silverstein of Bremerton was diving for geoduck off Green Point, Washington, with diving partner and owner of 40-foot F/V GOLD RUSH, Robert Mead. Silverstein and Mead were diving in about 60 feet of water, using 300-foot hoses attached to an air compressor on board, which was attended by two deck hands.

According to reports, Silverstein radioed from the bottom that he was having trouble and was coming up. When he surfaced, motioning to be picked up, the deck hands noted that his mask was “turned off.” Then Silverstein said he was going back down due to being tangled, after which he surfaced one more time. At that point, he was too far away for a quick pick-up by GOLD RUSH, so a deckhand requested assistance from nearby Department of Natural Resources vessel DAWN BREAKER. By then, Silverstein had disappeared under water again.

Robert Mead found Silverstein unconscious near the bottom and carried him to the surface, where the crew of DAWN BREAKER gave Silverstein CPR. He was taken as quickly as possible by vessel to Ediz Hook, then ambulanced to the medical center in Port Angeles, from where he was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He was put on life support there.

So far, ideas of what went wrong include a combination of strong currents and possible air hose entanglement. An investigation is underway to determine exactly what happened. We pray that Mr. Silverstein will make a full recovery.

In a related story, back in July of 2012, David Scheinost was diving for water samples near Restoration Point, Washington, for the Department of Natural Resources. He was seen struggling at the surface, and he went back under before anyone could get to him in time to save his life. The Department of Natural Resources was levied a fine of $172,900 for 16 safety violations related to Scheinost’s death. Our law firm, Beard Stacey and Jacobsen, represented Mr. Scheinost’s family; we will continue to draw attention to the dangers of commercial diving and the urgent need for stricter and better enforced safety laws so that tragedies like these will not happen in the future.

UPDATE Mr. Silverstein passed away at the hospital on May 4, after having been on life support since the accident. Our sympathies go out to his family and friends, who are planning a benefit concert in his honor for June.