Skip to main content

Dive off Belize turns into fight for survival

A 28-year-old Columbus, Ind., woman was found drowned last Monday following a chartered diving excursion off Belize in Central America.

Abigail Brinkman was one of four divers who floated for nearly three days after the boat they were on broke down Oct. 22 and began to drift, news reports say. A search team rescued Nancy Masters, 38, of Portland, Ore.; Yutaka Maeda, 34, of Japan; and found Brinkman’s body. A recreational boater picked up the fourth diver, 50-year-old Racine, Wis., resident John Bain.

The divers were aboard a 20-foot powerboat, owned by Advance Diving of Placencia, Belize, when the engine gave out and the anchorbroke free. The VHF did not work, according to reports. The divers reportedly decided to try and swim four miles to shore despite the divemaster’s request to stay on board until help arrived.

“But the waves were much greater than what we thought,” Masters told the Indianapolis Star. “And we tried to find our way from the sun, but visibility was poor.”

Due to rough seas from Hurricane Wilma, a small craft advisory was issued the morning the group set off, reports say. All four divers were reportedly wearing PFDs, and all but Brinkman were wearing wetsuits. Authorities in Belize are investigating the incident.

— Jason Fell