A 53-YEAR-OLD man from Duffield in Queensland died on Saturday while scuba diving at Byron Bay.
According to police, about 10am the man and a female companion went diving at Julian Rocks – a popular dive spot about 2.5km north of Main Beach – with a local dive company.
The man entered the water and made a normal descent of about 13m to the bottom.
Once on the bottom he signalled to his companion that he was in good shape and intended taking some photographs.
A short time later the man's companion saw him indicate that he was returning to the surface and he began his ascent.
When the companion reached the surface she found the man semiconscious and she signalled to the dive boat for assistance, police said.
The dive boat was met on the shore by ambulance paramedics.
Attempts were made to resuscitate the man, who was by this time unconscious. He was taken by ambulance to Byron Bay District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Former Northern Star reporter Tabitha Fulker, who now lives in Melbourne, was at Byron Bay at the time of the incident.
“I had just come down from the Lighthouse walk and gone on the beach where I saw two ambulances, a surf lifesaving boat and the dive operators on the beach,” Ms Fulker said.
“They were physically pumping the man's chest, then they took him back to the ambulance and drove off without turning on their lights.
The man was believed to be an experienced diver who had dived at Julian Rocks a number of times.
Police spoke with witnesses at the scene and have seized the man's diving equipment for examination.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
Meanwhile, hope was fading last night in the search for a swimmer who went missing off a beach on the NSW South Coast on Saturday.
The 20-year-old man had been swimming with three friends at Bengello Beach at Moruya before he was swept out to sea.
“We have got to maintain that last ounce of hope,” a police spokesman told AAP yesterday.
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