Regulator inadvertently kicked out of mouth by buddy

Reported Incident

The incident took place half-way through a dive at a depth of 60 feet (18 meters). The Lock 21 dive site is a fairly easy place to dive although it is situated in rather cold water (60 F/16 C ). Visibility is also limited and happened to be worst that day at a maximum of 5 feet (1.5 meters) with heavy currents. Temperature outside of the water was very warm at 90 F (32 C).

I dive these waters with a full 7mm wetsuit, hood, gloves and boots. My octopus is setup around my neck, hanging on a bungee cord necklace. Our regulators had just been serviced and tested.

Because of the poor visibility and for safety reasons, my buddy and I stuck pretty close to each other. Even though we were familiar with the site, we wanted to avoid being separated due to the unusually poor condition. As we reached the end of the structure, my buddy decided to make a sharp ascent in order to swim over the high wall. This wall is approximately 20-feet high and the current above it can get extremely strong.

As she pushed herself in a vertical position her left heel violently kicked me in the face, knocking the regulator out of my mouth. As she kept ascending, I started looking for my regulator's hose, leaning on the side a bit as taught in our courses to no avail. Since I had just exhaled, I needed an air source urgently. I then quickly reached for my octopus which was hanging around my neck. For some reason, it was stuck and I could not untangle it. As panic started to set in, I managed to flip the octopus mouthpiece towards my mouth and bit onto it, getting some air but unfortunately swallowing quite a bit of water in the process. With this small amount of air, I reached for my buddy's fin which is when she noticed my distress and passed on her octopus. She finally untangled my regulator which got stuck together with my octopus and we decided to keep diving as planned.

Divers’ comments

Many elements contributed for this incident to happen. Had I kept a better relative position to her, I would have avoided the kick altogether. Also, because of the extremely hot temperature out of the water, I had partially taken off my hood prior to diving which created a large crease where the bungee cord got stuck. Moreover, that same bungee cord was tightened around the octopus mouth piece more than usual as it had just been serviced, making it harder to release it. Finally, as this is a rather unusual scenario, I was not prepared for it. As everything happened very quickly, I did not realize my regulator got kicked straight down and had no idea where it vanished. Its position also made it very difficult for me to access my octopus which I was confident I could have relied on.

~ edited by Jeanette Moore