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Fatality Database

In 1970 John McAniff of the National Underwater Accident Data Center (NUADC), University of Rhode Island, began collecting information about recreational diving fatalities. DAN joined the collection process in 1989, working with McAniff until his retirement in 1995. DAN has continued to collect information on scuba diving fatalities involving U.S. and Canadian divers (with the exception of commercial divers). While DAN is not the primary investigative agency for dive fatalities, the results of its data-collecting efforts are published in DAN's Annual Diving Report, which is available online to the public at no cost.

Overview

The process of data collection starts with notification by the dive buddy, eyewitness, friend and/or family member, dive shop or dive agency. DAN often receives notification from various law-enforcement and government agencies, including state and local police, sheriff and fire departments, emergency medical services (EMS), lifeguards, marine patrol, state park offices, district attorneys, U.S. Coast Guard and medical examiners/coroners. In addition, DAN specialists search related Internet sites for information about diving-related fatalities.

The first notification is often incomplete and inaccurate, but it triggers a process in which DAN specialists contact the family and investigative agencies to try to obtain necessary information to compile a case report. A forensic pathologist who is also trained in dive medicine reviews all information obtained on each dive fatality case.

Fatality cases may take up to a year to close. Some cases may be closed as incomplete because of limited information due to local or state regulations, family requests or litigation. If DAN is notified that a case is in litigation, the case is closed, as the information is no longer available.

Completed cases are included in DAN's Annual Diving Report.

Participate

If you witnessed or have information regarding a diving fatality involving any of the following, please complete and return the fatality reporting form (PDF: 487 KB).
  • recreational divers
  • technical divers
  • student divers
  • recreational trained divers making a technical dive
  • divers performing a personal task
  • scientific divers
  • public service divers
  • divers with no formal certification

  • Download the fatality reporting form (PDF: 487 KB) or contact DAN Research to obtain a hard copy of the form, and return it to:
    DAN Research
    c/o Jeanette Moore
    6 West Colony Place
    Durham, NC 27705
    Otherwise, you may contact the DAN Medical Information Line at 1-800-446-2671 to report a fatality.

    See the Policy for Release of Medical Information.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I report a fatality to DAN?
  • Notification of a fatality should be made by calling the DAN Medical Information Line at 1-800-446-2671, or by sending an email to the DAN Medical Information department.

  • How can I get a copy of a fatality report form?
  • Call DAN Research at 1-800-446-2671 ext. 260 (+1-919-684-2948 ext. 260) or send an email.

  • How can I obtain a copy of the Annual Diving Report?
  • Copies of the Annual Diving Report can be downloaded from the DAN website at no charge.

  • How can I obtain a copy of fatality reports from DAN?
  • A valid legal authorization is required to obtain records from DAN. In the case of a fatality, a subpoena from N.C. District 14 or the Middle District is required. If you are the executor of the decedent's estate, you must show legal proof of this to DAN. All legal requests should be submitted to DAN's Custodian of Records, and all must be approved by the DAN legal counsel.