Oil rig diver cheats death after surviving for 40 minutes under the North Sea after air supply line was severed


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The Independent Online

An oil rig diver has cheated death after surviving 40 minutes under the North Sea after his air supply line was severed.

Chris Lemons, 32, a commercial diver, was 262ft down when his 'umbilical' line, which supplies heat and air, became snagged and was severed - leaving him with just his the air supply from his oxygen tank.

Unlike one of his colleagues Mr Lemons was unable to make it to a diving bell, and so began an agonising wait. Following safety procedures he sat completely still on top of an oil rig drill to conserve energy. He finally lost consciousness when the supply from his oxygen tank ran out.

It took Mr Lemons' colleagues 38 minutes to find him using a remotely operated vehicle. A fellow diver then dragged him to the safety of a diving bell.

His colleagues said they feared the worst when discovered his lifeless and freezing cold body, but that he revived almost immediately after his helmet was removed.

On an internet forum, a fellow diver described what happened following the severing of the line: "Chris said he knew to try and conserve his gas even though he was freezing to death," said the diver. "He doesn't remember slipping into unconsciousness, it just happened. It took [38 minutes] to get him back in the bell. After two breaths by the bellman he started breathing on his own.

"Once his breathing was restored he recovered quite quickly so they proceeded to start and warm him once the bell was on its way up (he was blue when they removed his hat)."

A spokesman for Bibby Offshore praised "the skill, professionalism and expertise of the crew of the Bibby Topaz" for rescuing Mr Lemons.

The incident happened last Tuesday 115 miles east of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, as Mr Lemons was inspecting a rig drilling structure at the Huntington Oil Field.

Following decompression treatment in Aberdeen Mr Lemons has since made a full recovery.