Scuba diver dies exploring Lake Erie shipwreck

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Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the name of the victim.

(WJET/WFXP) — An Ohio man is dead after scuba diving in some of the deepest waters of Lake Erie.

The man was identified by the Erie County Coroner as 31-year-old Tyler Cullinan of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Cullinan was part of a group that left Barcelona Harbor in New York on Saturday, and was diving about 15 miles off shore.

The divers were exploring a shipwreck at a depth of 190 feet.

According to Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook, Cullinan signaled that he was in distress to the other divers and then became unconscious. Cullinan was then brought to shore by a Border Patrol boat. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The death has been ruled accidental, but the cause is still pending from the results of the autopsy that was performed on Monday.

Scuba diving fatalities occur at a rate of about 2 per 100,000 dives, according to Divers Alert Network. The group, which tracks diving deaths, found in its 2019 report, the most common cause of death in diving fatalities is “drowning,” as reported by medical examiners. Drowning can result from any number of underwater incidents, such as an equipment malfunction or running out of oxygen while diving.

Heart disease was the second-most common cause of death in diving fatalities, Divers Alert Network found. A medical examiner might rule heart disease the cause of death if someone appears to have suffered a heart attack while underwater.

DCS, or decompression sickness, can also lead to death when severe. Also known as “the bends,” decompression sickness can occur when a diver ascends too rapidly, creating small gas bubbles in your blood vessels. Those bubbles can cause blocks, clots or ruptures.

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