Company faces safety questions after dive accident leaves 13-year-old visitor dead

Company faces safety questions after dive accident leaves 13-year-old visitor dead
The boy who died in a diving incident off Oahu was identified as Temuulin Tsogt. (Image: Family)

HAWAII KAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The scuba company involved in an accident Saturday off Hawaii Kai that left a 13-year-old boy dead after his first dive has had other incidents in recent years.

Temuulin Tsogt was visiting the islands from Mongolia with his father, mother and 8-year-old sister.

On Saturday morning, they went out on a dive with Island Divers. Hours later, Temuulin — after an extensive search by first responders — would be pulled from 65 feet of water and rushed to shore. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The family’s attorney, Michael Livingston, said Temuulin had no ocean or scuba experience.

“We don’t know what happened under the water, but he was lost,” Livingston said. “The team members and the instructor surfaced without him. An emergency was called.”

The Island Divers Hawaii website says during such dives an instructor is with you each step of the way.

Livingston said that doesn’t appear to have happened Saturday.

“To put in him the water without the absolute one on one, close instruction that had been promised is just outrageous,” he said. “I just cannot overstate how devastating this has been to this family.”

In 2011, an amateur but certified diver went missing on an Island Divers tour and his body was never recovered.

The company settled a lawsuit over the death.

And last August, a 27-year-old woman on an Island Divers tour was struck by a propeller off Kahala and suffered multiple cuts to her legs and feet.

Certified dive master Lawrence Friedman says he filed a complaint against the company with the Coast Guard and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors in 2017 after he claims the Sea Fox — the vessel that the Tsogts were on Saturday — temporarily left two divers behind off Ewa.

“One of the divers charged right up to the captain. We heard someone from the boat say, ‘I’m sorry sorry.’ That helped corroborate my belief that something happened on that dive and they left people in the water,” he said.

Friedman says for uncertified divers, shallow dives in the ocean are allowed but not recommended until a training session in a pool.

Island Divers Hawaii says it can’t comment about the current investigation or past litigation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family foremost, and with the witnesses and first responders,” the company said, in a statement.

Livingston says the family arrived from Mongolia on New Year’s Day and hopes to leave Wednesday. The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii is helping the family.

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