A DIVER from Rotherham died while exploring a sea wreck after he descended beyond the depths for which he was qualified, an inquest heard.
Father-of-four Neil Rodgers (40), from Thorpe Hesley, had become separated from two other more experienced divers when he got into difficulties and failed to surface.
He was only qualified to dive to 35 metres yet the trio descended to about 47 metres in the Sound of Mull off the west coast of Scotland before they hit trouble.
It is thought all three suffered nitrogen narcosis, which affects the nerve cells in a similar way to alcohol as the divers explored the wreck of the Rondo, a cargo vessel which sank in 1935.
As they became separated, Mr Rodgers’ “dive buddies” Dr John Fallon and Sarah Brough each thought he was with the other and Dr Fallon had to ascend rapidly after he lost his weighted dive belt.
Mr Rodgers, of Chapelfield Crescent, was on a trip with other members of Doncaster Sub Aqua Club when he went missing on March 16, 2008.
His decomposing body was only found ten months later by another diver.
The inquest heard this week that Mr Rodgers had been warned by the club’s dive officer not to go beyond 35 metres—a limit recommended for “sport” divers of his experience by the British Sub Aqua Club.
Postmortems on Mr Rodgers, who had been diving for five years, were carried out in both Glasgow and Sheffield.
Although drowning was suspected, neither pathologist could give the exact cause of death, which remains “unascertained.”
Assistant Deputy Sheffield Coroner, Mr Donald Coutts-Wood, who recorded a verdict of misadventure, said that he was satisfied that Mr Rodgers' equipment played no part in his death and that the dive plan beforehand and at the scene was adequate.
He added: “I am satisfied that narcosis played a role in what happened at the depth they reached.
“The effects could be exacerbated with the alcohol which had been drunk the night before and lack of rest but above all the question of depth comes in.”