Family seeks damages of HK$1.6m for diver's death

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2007, 12:00am

The family of a woman who drowned during a scuba-diving lesson off Sai Kung is suing the company that ran the trip for HK$1.6 million.

The Court of First Instance is deciding whether Paradive and instructor Ho Ching-yu should be held liable for the death of Cheng Lai-ha. Cheng, 35, was found unconscious on the seabed off Tsim Chau, Tai Long Wan, by two amateur divers on July 15, 2001.

She had been noticed missing when the other members of the trip surfaced. The group was on the second day of a four-day scuba-diving course offered by the company.

Cheng was plucked from the water and taken aboard a training yacht, where she underwent emergency resuscitation for about 30 minutes until her breathing and pulse stabilised. She was taken to hospital but died the next day.

An inquest in 2002 concluded that her death was an accident. Paradive and plaintiff Tang Muk-kiu, on behalf of Cheng's family, have agreed that HK$1.6 million in compensation is to be paid should the firm be found liable.

Divemaster Matthew Mak Man-tat, an expert witness at yesterday's hearing, provided detailed testimony about scuba-diving equipment, training and emergency procedures. He described the 'buddy system', whereby beginners dive with another person, and how students are instructed to behave in the event they became separated.

'If you lose sight of your buddy, remain in an upright position and look around at all angles,' he said. 'If you still fail to locate your buddy within one minute, then you have to ascend to the surface immediately ... and call for help.'

The trial continues today before Mr Justice Darryl Saw.