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    Tina Watson Death - Part 3 - Rescue Attempt and Back to Townsville

    Click here for the previous part of this article.


    When Gabe surfaced, both Brian Fotheringham and Craig Haslet called an emergency over their radios. On Spoilsport, Uzi Barnai and David Lemsing were the nominated rescue divers. They immediately put on their gear and rushed to the rear of the boat and climbed aboard the tender being used to transport the commercial divers. This was driven by Bruce Eddings. They were taken to the DAP. However, before they got in the water, other things happened - see the following paragraphs.

    Meanwhile, on the wreck, Wade Singleton, seven minutes into his dive [he started at 10:31 am by the download of his computer, about 30 seconds after Gabe and Tina], sighted a motionless diver lying off the wreck. He was at about 22 to 24 metres. He swam straight there and discovered an unconscious person he recognised was Tina Watson. This was reported in some places to be 16 metres off the wreck at 90ΒΊ to the length of the wreck and the direction of flow of the current [note that it was not 16 metres off the wreck - see comments later]. Singleton says the body was 15 to 20 metres from the bow and 10 metres off the wreck. He later identified a spot much further off the wreck. Tina was lying on her back.

    Dive Profiles
    This graph shows the dive profiles of the key persons involved in this dive and is based on evidence given at the Inquest.
    See part 2 for how I calculated this.
    As you can see from the above graph, it is impossible for Stutz to have seen Gabe and Tina together as he did not
    descend till about a minute and a half after Tina fell away and less than a minute before Gabe ascended
    [and we know Gabe did not ascend from 16 metres in less than a minute].

    Dr Stutz also stated that he saw a third diver (Diver 3) [who you would expect had to be Wade] swim very quickly down ("zoomed") and that this was the same person who then brought Diver 1 [Tina] to the surface past him within a minute or so. However, Dr Stutz also stated that Diver 3 came from the surface, that is, above him, and swam all the way to the bottom. He was adamant in his first interview that the third diver came from the surface and has not provided any statement to the contrary about this claim. This is patently incorrect, Wade was already at 22 to 24 metres when he saw Tina. This claim was never questioned by the Police.

    I believe that Dr Stutz actually saw Jarrod Fisher, a 13 year old who was diving in his group. Jarrod had pain in his jaw as he descended to three metres. He then dropped from the rear position to the instructor leading the dive, Robert Webster, and met him at seven metres. He told Webster of his problem and ascended.

    Comment: The photograph further down this page was taken by Gary Stempler and shows Wade swimming down towards Tina's body. This photo has been captioned in some places to say that she is 16 metres off the wreck. However, I never believed this as assuming that the photographer was on the wreck, it looks a lot closer. If Tina was indeed 16 metres off the wreck, then the visibility was much greater, at least at the bottom, than the 6 metres that Gabe claimed and the 15 metres which was the most common opinion. I now know that she was not 16 metres from the wreck. More about this later.

    The Police do not appear to have investigated the photograph and the position from which it was taken. It seems to me, from looking at this photo and the following photo taken by Stempler, as well as the Police videos and photos, that the photo was taken to the south of the fallen mast which lies across the face of Hold 1. I also suspect that the photo is not looking off at 90° but is actually looking a little to the north of east (that is, looking back a bit towards the bow). This means Tina's body was about level with the southern side of the hold and perhaps 10 metres off the wreck.

    Wade came to Tina's body and assessed that she was not breathing even though her eyes were open. He placed his right arm under her right arm and put his hand on her regulator, depressing the purge button and forcing air into her mouth. He used his left arm to cradle her head and hold her inflator, putting air into her BCD [I still have problems figuring out exactly what this looked like as I have seen no photos to show a re-enactment and at the Alabama trial he was not asked to show it]. At the Alabama trial he indicated that he only purged her regulator for a second, presumably every now and then as he ascended. He held her head back to try and keep her airway open. He said that he pressed the BCD inflator for 2 to 3 seconds [I find it hard to believe that only this short a burst was required].

    Before this, he dropped his weight belt [he did this rather than drop Tina's as she was wearing integrated weights which are harder to remove - I still find it hard to believe that this alone would lift them both unless he also added air to his BCD or if he was using a 5 mm suit which is very possible]. As he ascended, the way he was holding Tina was the "bear hug" that Dr Stutz would later describe about Diver 3 holding Diver 1. This would come to be used by the Police to describe how Diver 2 [Gabe] was holding Diver 1 [Tina].

    Cradling Tina like this, he took her to the surface. She was face up. This was confirmed by many who saw it. He signalled to Claudia to look after Gary and Dawn. He ascended very rapidly, much quicker than Gabe had swum up.

    As mentioned, Dr Stutz says he witnessed Diver 3 (Wade) and Diver 1 (Tina) passing only a few metres from him. He said her eyes were open and vomit was coming from her mouth. He said Diver 3 had Diver 1 in a "bear hug". This is the only time he uses this term.

    Robert Webster, the leader of the dive group, also says he saw them. Webster told the inquest that he followed Wade towards the surface but saw others assisting once Wade and Tina surfaced so he went back to the DAP. Dr Stutz says he jumped down the line past the other divers to Webster and tried to inform him of what he saw (the interaction between Diver 1 and Diver 2). He said that Webster did not understand and had not seen anything. It is not clear as a number of different timeframes are given. Webster told the inquest he had already been almost to the surface by the time Stutz came to him [I believe that Webster's evidence needs to be treated with some caution as the first time he was interviewed by Police was on 1 April 2005, 18 months after the incident].

    Karl Diggins and Christian Bennett, other divers who were part of this group, also saw Wade and Tina go past. Diggins said that they came from his left [pg 572], meaning he was facing west as this is the only way this can occur. He said Webster swam out a little and got an okay signal from Wade and returned to the line. Diggins says Webster did not ascend. Sun Min Jeon and Han Gyu Kim also saw Tina pass by (they were at five metres). Mr Kim in his statement said Tina was on her back and she was 8 or 10 metres below him when he saw her. She had her eyes open and blood coming out of her nose. Ms Jeon also said her eyes were open. Wade had hold of her by the top of her tank.

    This was also seen by Neil Joslin (he was at 10 metres). Christian Bennett [pg 575] says Tina's eyes were closed as she passed by him. This is the opposite of what Stutz and most other claimed.

    It was later claimed by Police that Wade took about 1.5 minutes to ascend the almost 30 metres, which appears on the face of it to be about four times as quickly as Gabe had ascended. However, he did not actually ascend in 1.5 minutes, but two minutes. In his ascent from the 27 metre bottom was less than twice as fast or perhaps even only just a third quicker than Gabe's ascent [Wade's ascent was an unsafe ascent, but shows great bravery to do this for a stranger!].

    Tina had been underwater for a total of 10 minutes according to her computer, but it was probably 10.25 or 10.5 minutes [the log book feature of dive computers generally only show dive times in full minutes, so any dive of between 10 and 11 minutes would show as being 10 minutes - my guess at 10.5 minutes is derived using Wade's starting and ending time and knowing he started less than a minute after Gabe and Tina].

    They surfaced just near Jazz II, between 5 and 10 metres from its stern. Just as Bruce Eddings arrived in this area in the tender with Uzi Barnai and David Lemsing, Wade surfaced. I have read that Uzi took off his gear and dived into the water, but David Lemsing says he actually stepped aboard Jazz II and it is implied that Tina and Wade were already on the back deck. Barnai claimed at the Alabama trial that he saw Wade and Tina below the surface and leapt in before they came up.

    Meanwhile, Jarrod Fisher had surfaced a minute or so before but had not yet climbed back on Jazz II. He was told to quickly get on board by the crew. Barton Painter, the skipper of the Jazz II leapt off the back of his boat to help Wade.

    As Jazz II was the closest boat, they pulled Tina to the stern and on board. When they were on board Jazz II, four or five people attempted resuscitation. Barnai in his statements said that Tina expelled a lot of water and at the Alabama trial that she vomited over him. Haslet meanwhile had taken Gabe back to Spoilsport and collected the boat's emergency oxygen resuscitation gear. Here he also was approached by Doctor John Downie, a diver on Spoilsport and an emergency trauma surgeon. He took him over to Jazz II. Haslet made a number or trips back and forth taking medical gear and people to assist.

    When Dr Stutz surfaced about 30 minutes later, he also assisted in the attempts. About 10 minutes after Stutz got back on board they stopped resuscitation. This was a total of about 40 to 45 minutes after starting, although Haslet said it was 41 minutes (he ended up on Jazz II assisting).


    Meanwhile, the divers in the water continued their dives, virtually all unaware of what had happened. The first group of Jazz II divers led by Kasper Brodersen appears to have done a circuit of most of the wreck. Most report seeing Wade's dropped weight belt 3 to 5 metres off the wreck [certainly both Brodersen and Shah saw it]. The second group of Jazz II divers went to the sand near the bow and then along the deck side of the wreck. Opposite the first hold, Robert Webster found and collected a weight belt. This was Wade's of course.

    This action was seen by a number of people [Stutz, Diggins and Christian Bennett], most of whom agree it was Webster who collected the belt. They said the belt was close to the wreck and Bennett thought it was straight out from the DAP. Webster would deny to the inquest that he collected it. Note that Webster also told the inquest that they descended at the stern of the wreck [they did not]. As mentioned above, Webster was not interviewed for 18 months and then a second interview almost two and a half years further on.

    The divers from Spoilsport ascended group by group. When Mr and Mrs Snyder and Dr and Mrs Milsap got back on the boat, no mention was made by the crew of any problem. Ken Snyder noticed something was wrong and that Gabe might have been involved. It is possible that they were already back on board when Gabe came back in the tender. A few different versions and order were told by Mr Snyder. In one he says he saw Tina being pulled onto Jazz II, then heard radio communications. In any case, he asked Gabe what had happened and Gabe told him Tina was missing.

    Mr Snyder told someone that there was a doctor on board and he went and found Dr John Downie who was then taken over to Jazz II (as mentioned further up).

    In the next few minutes, Gabe told Paula and Ken Snyder and Doug Milsap an almost identical story of what happened [based on their retelling to inquest] as Gabe would later tell the Police. While there were some minor differences, these can be explained. In response to what Gabe told him, Ken Snyder said "Gabe, that is bullshit. That did not happen". Milsap, in response to Gabe's story, said "Gabe, that's bullshit. Gabe underwater there's no sensation of weight". However, these comments were not made in their first statements to the Police and were only made much later in April 2007. Paula Snyder who was close by when this happened did not report any such confrontation.

    Comment: I certainly would say that underwater, if you are neutrally buoyant, there is no sensation of weight. However, I certainly disagree with Snyder's statement. If you are overweighted or carrying a heavy weight/object, you will know that you are heavy and are sinking. If Snyder and Milsap both thought Gabe's story was "bullshit", why did they not mention this very important fact to the Police when they were interviewed later that night.

    Gabe has told me that he does not recall them saying this. In addition, both men's story says that the other one called a halt to the confrontation with Gabe. Snyder claimed that Milsap said "now is not the time" and Milsap claimed that Snyder said "Doug this is not the time". Both cannot be true, therefore some doubt must be placed on when and how these conversations with Gabe occurred or, indeed, if they happened at all.

    During this time Gabe expressed no desire to go over to the other boat. However, it is not clear if anyone even told Gabe that Tina had been brought to the surface and was being treated on Jazz II. It was said that he later lied to Tina's parents and said he was there when the resuscitation was attempted [did he really tell them this?]. This apparent decision to not go over to Jazz II to be with his wife and his comment to Tina's parents were later to put a lot of doubt into people's minds about his innocence. Gabe said in a TV interview in 2012 that he did not go over as he could not cope with seeing people trying to revive Tina.

    Dr John Downie came and told Gabe that Tina was dead. Downie, Paula Snyder and Gabe were all crying. Gabe was later taken over to Jazz II by Wade. He testified that Gabe was crying and sobbing.

    Louise Johnstone, the volunteer deckhand, was asked to comfort Gabe. She spent some time with him in his cabin. He ended up relating what happened and her memory of this is only very slightly different to the statement he would later give to the Police. This difference was the order of mask/reg recovery.


    Tina Watson
    The photograph showing Tina Watson lying on her back and Wade Singleton
    racing to her assistance - Dawn Asano is the diver in front
    This photo as used on the cover of Honeymoon Dive does not show all of the original photo

    Photo by Gary Stempler

    Gary Stempler took what is now a very famous photo (shown above). It shows his wife Dawn Asano in the foreground and Tina in the background lying on her back on the sand. To the left Wade Singleton is rushing to Tina's aid. Stempler stated that he was at 65 to 70 feet (19 -21 metres) when he took the photo and he was 20 to 25 feet (6 - 9 metres) from Tina and less than 10 feet (3 metres) from the wreck. Therefore Tina was 9 to 11 metres from the wreck in his view. Note Dawn's hands, this shows that it is possible that Dr Stutz saw her as her arms are out to her side and appear to be waving around.

    In 2012 I saw on some internet forums claims that the closest diver in the photo was Gabe. This is not correct, it is Dawn Asano. I have also seen some claim that Tina does not have her reg in her mouth and her mask is missing. This is incorrect as her head is tilted back and they cannot be properly seen.


    When the Jazz II divers surfaced they were taken to Spoilsport. I think that the remaining passengers and most of the crew were also taken off Jazz II and over to Spoilsport. Soon after Tina died, Dr Downie and Dr Stutz had a conversation on the back deck of Jazz II. This was reported by Glen Martin, a diver from Adrenalin Dive, who was one of the people who administered CPR on Tina. He reports that they discussed what had happened and that Tina had been panicky at depth. I also assume that Dr Stutz asked Dr Downie about this matter and that he informed him of what Gabe had said had happened.

    Tina's body was taken back aboard Spoilsport and they headed back to Townsville.

    On the way, a couple of passengers were later to claim that Gabe was playing cards. This was told to the Police. Again, this was later used to insinuate that Gabe was not worried that his wife had died and was carrying on like it had not happened.

    John Graves said in statements to the Police and also implied at the Inquest that he saw Gabe playing cards with three others. He later agreed under questioning at the Inquest that he did not actually see Gabe with cards in his hands and he may have been watching others play. In fact some of the "witnesses" [the only other one I can find who mentioned this in a statement was Tina Graves and, in fact, every other person denied seeing Gabe playing cards] did not even actually see Gabe playing cards, it seems she had heard he had from her husband. On the basis of all the statements made, he did not play cards. In fact, I do not think he even left his cabin except as per the next paragraph.

    Nearing Townsville Gabe asked to be able to address the passengers. He started to talk, saying something like "As you know, my wife died today" and then he was said to have said "This really sucks" and he walked away. However, this was only reported by John and Tina Graves. Others who report the speech make no comment on the content. Paula Snyder says there was nothing out of the ordinary about the speech. The Graves made comments about this being inappropriate. Again, this appears to have given weight to the Police view that Gabe was guilty. Therefore, it can be deduced that there was no inappropriate comments made by Gabe.

    During part of the trip back, Louise Forster-Johnstone comforted Gabe. She reported he was crying and very upset. Other people also reported seeing Gabe crying and commented that it seemed very real.

    Click here for the next part of this article.

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