Scuba instructor charged in death

Posted on July 30, 2008 by Scuba Herald

A former scuba instructor at the University of Alabama has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of one of her students in class last year.

Allison Rainey Gibson, 44, turned herself into authorities Friday after being indicted by a grand jury last month.

Student Zachary Moore, 21, died from an air embolism in April 2007. Moore apparently ascended to the surface of the pool too quickly and didn’t exhale to release some of the air in his lungs, officials said at the time.

“They felt obviously that there was negligence on the part of the instructor that rose to a criminal level,” said Capt. Loyd Baker, commander of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit.

A junior from Fairhope, Moore was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity and was taking business classes. UA stopped offering the scuba class following his death, said UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen. Gibson was contracted to work for the university, she said, and no longer teaches there.

Criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable

of up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Court records provide no information about what evidence the grand jury heard before deciding to indict Gibson. According to the indictment, members of the grand jury believe that Gibson failed to directly supervise Moore as he performed the dangerous exercise.

Moore died from an air embolism, which occurs after air bubbles form in the bloodstream and stop blood from reaching vital organs. They occur in scuba accidents because divers are breathing pressurized air.

Around 20 members of the beginning scuba class were participating in an exercise in which they dove to the bottom of the pool, left their equipment on the bottom and ascended back to the surface.

Moore apparently returned to the surface of the pool at the UA Aquatic Center too quickly and didn’t exhale to release some of the air, according to the autopsy report.

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