North West Wales

Diver 'panicked' in deadly Snowdonia quarry pool

Dorothea Quarry, Penygroes, Gwynedd
Image caption Dorothea Quarry - a magnet for divers, but it has claimed about 25 lives

A diver panicked and drowned at a notorious quarry pool in Snowdonia after breathing equipment malfunctioned, an inquest has heard.

Julian Kelsall, from Fenton in Stoke-on-Trent, died at the 90m (300ft) deep Dorothea Quarry in August last year.

The Caernarfon hearing was told Mr Kelsall, 42, had an underlying liver condition that would have affected his ability to cope.

A conclusion of misadventure was recorded.

The inquest on Wednesday was told Mr Kelsall's air regulator failed after he and diving partner Steven Wood dropped to a depth of about 22m (72ft).

Mr Wood said the stricken diver was "fighting" to try and sort out his kit.

"He's not normally a panicker, he is very cool as a rule," said Mr Wood.

Image caption The diver was airlifted to hospital in Bangor by RAF Valley rescue teams

Mr Kelsall was given a spare breathing regulator to use, and then given Mr Wood's main breathing piece - but the diver continued to struggle and the two men became separated.

Another diver, Paul Antonio, said he swam down to 41m (135ft) to recover Mr Kelsall but never saw him conscious.

Other divers and paramedics tried to save him on the surface, before he was flown to hospital in Bangor, where his death was confirmed.

The inquest heard Mr Kelsall died from drowning, but also had a markedly enlarged liver.

The disused quarry pool has been a magnet for divers since slate operations closed in the 1970s.

But the deep water at the site near Penygroes, Gwynedd, has claimed about 25 lives in the last 20 years.

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