Dive club continues for members of fined company Subaquaholics
The directors of a community dive group in Bristol say they will continue to operate for the members of a dive school which was told to pay £35,000 last week following health and safety failings.
At Bristol Crown Court last week St Philip’s based Subaquaholics Ltd was fined after the death of a father-of-two who had been diving with them, and in a statement to members they said it would be “difficult to survive the fine”.
But directors of a separate club, Subaquaholics Dive Club Ltd, say that they are able to continue running and will still be offering trips.
They say the club is there as a membership support network and operates on a non-commercial basis by members for members.
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Last week the Post reported that father-of-two Jan Karon had drowned four years ago while diving off Portland, Dorset, with Subaquaholics Ltd.
Bristol Crown Court heard the 54-year-old "novice" diver suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a condition affecting his circulation.
But Subaquaholics Ltd failed to ensure important documents had been filled out before passing him fit to dive, including a medical questionnaire, statement of risk and liability and a statement of understanding.
They also failed to have a site risk assessment done for the dive Mr Karon died while returning from.
A judge fined instructor and owner of the company Ian Johnson a total of £5,000, fined Subaquaholics Ltd £10,000 and ordered that the business pay £20,000 of the prosecution's £100,000-plus costs.
After the verdict, the company emailed members and said that anyone currently involved in a course would continue to receive training from their instructors.
They said: “Subaquaholics prides itself on not allowing this awful incident to be seen as a negative, but to take all lessons learnt from this situation and to act as ambassadors to the diving industry and try to ensure no other PADI professional ever has to face such consequences.
“Whilst it will be difficult for Subaquaholics Ltd to survive the fine that was charged given the current financial climate, it does not mean that Subaquaholics will disappear – the Subaquaholics Dive Club is a separate entity run by Lois [Hodder], Greg [Parker] and Annie [Mines], and will continue to offer outstanding dive trips and diving opportunities.”
Annie Mines, manager of Subaquaholics Dive Club Ltd, told ThisisBristol that the club and the school were “separated entities”.
“Subaquaholics Dive club was formed as a separate entity to Subaquaholics Ltd, in the past it had all been mixed in together, but the club reached a point where it needed to stand by itself in order for members to really gain the benefits,” she said.
She said they were in the process of registering as a community sports club, and the owners of Subaquaholics Ltd had no operational or financial control.
“The club is not affiliated with PADI the dive organisation, as we don’t offer any training as a club , but PADI are fully aware of our existence and two of our directors are PADI Professionals or Instructors,” she said.
“The aims of the club are to provide a community platform for Divers in the South West , and a lot of our members are customers or former customers of Subaquaholics Limited , but by the same count we also have a lot of independent memberships including other instructors and people trained by other organisations.”
She added: “It is really unfortunate what has happened with Subaquaholics Ltd and Ian Johnson during the recent court case, and we are aware that a number of the customers who are mid training (who are also club members ) are wondering what is happening in terms of ongoing training. As a club we are working hard on a plan to get our members supported and trained through another entity and are working with PADI on this process.
“But fundamentally the club plan has not changed and we continue as there was no involvement from our part in the court case or any of the liabilities of Subaqaholics Ltd, the timing of the case has been unfortunate as we are in the middle of renewals period for membership and aware that a number of people have 'assumed' that the club and the dive centre are one and the same, so we are encouraging all members to come forward and ask any questions they need to in order to get comfortable as we don’t want to see the membership level drop off.”
A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said: "The Health and Safety Executive is aware of the letter from Subaquaholics. The company is not currently under investigation."