An afternoon dive on Hood Canal turned fatal for a 42 year old Oregon woman on Sunday. Jauna Marian Gilnett of Eagle Creek, Oregon died at about 4:30 AM Monday morning at Harbor View Medical Center.
According to investigators, Gilnett and her partner, Bryan Southard, 44, Portland, Oregon, were diving in the vicinity of Sund Rock which is located north of Hoodsport. The two were enjoying the sea life in the area and apparently lost track of the amount of air in their tanks momentarily. Southard told investigators when he checked his air, he only had 400 lbs in his tank which is below the amount required for a safe ascent. During the ascent, investigators say, Gilnett signaled to Southard she was out of air. At this point the two were about 30 feet below the surface.
When the two reached the surface Gilnett was panicked and could not inflate her buoyancy compensator. Also she apparently could not release the weights from her weight belt. Southard told investigators he attempted to hang on to Gilnett and assist her. Because of rough water and windy conditions on Hood Canal, Southard was unable to retain his grip on Gilnett and they became separated.
Southard told investigators he yelled for help very soon after surfacing. Other divers in the area were able to respond and assist in locating Gilnett. She was located in about 20 ft of water and brought to the surface a short time later. The divers brought Ms. Gilnett to shore where she was treated by medics and subsequently transported to Mason General Hospital by ambulance. Later Gilnett was transferred to Harbor View Medical Center.
Sheriff’s investigators continue their investigation. According to Sergeant Brad Mandeville “this incident appears to be a tragic accident.”