Raising the Dead: A True Story of Death and Survival

Raising the Dead: A True Story of Death and Survival

Phillip Finch

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0007275536

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A true story of death and survival in the world's most dangerous sport, cave diving. Two friends plunge 900 ft deep into the water of the Komali Springs in South Africa, to raise the body of a diver who had perished there a decade before. Only one returns. Unquenchable heroism and complex human relationships amid the perils of extreme sport. On New Year's Day, 2005, David Shaw travelled halfway around the world on a journey that took him to a steep crater in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, a site known locally as Boesmansgat: Bushman's Hole. His destination was nearly 900 feet below the surface. On 8 January, he stepped into the water. He wore and carried on him some of the most advanced diving equipment ever developed. Mounted to a helmet on his head was a video camera. David Shaw was about to attempt what had never been done before, and he wanted the world to see. He descended. About fifteen feet below the surface was a fissure in the dolomite bottom of the basin, barely wide enough to admit him and his equipment and the aluminum tanks slung under his shoulders. He slipped through the opening, and disappeared from sight, leaving behind the world of light and life. Then, a second diver descended through the same crack in the stone. This was Don Shirley, Shaw's friend and frequent dive partner, one of the few people in the world qualified to follow where Shaw was about to go. In the community of extreme diving, Don Shirley was a master among masters. Twenty-five minutes later, one of the men was dead. The other was in mortal peril, and would spend the next 10 hours struggling to survive, existing literally from breath to breath. What happened that day at Bushman's Hole is the stuff of nightmarish drama, juxtaposing classic elements of suspense with an extreme environment beyond most people's comprehension. But it's also a compelling human story of friendship, heroism, unswerving ambition and of coming to terms with loss and tragedy.

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counter on the display ticks off the depth, but he doesn’t give it a glance. The number is immaterial. He is where he is and he has no option but to continue down. The shaft begins to angle outward and it levels off horizontal. After a few more metres, the passenger opens up slightly. Here the passage is wide enough that, if he wished, the diver could turn around and return to the surface. The depth here is 40 metres. He has spent the past seven minutes wriggling through a clenched fist of

breaking and scarring the delicate mineral formations as they struggle with their buoyancy. It was an odd place to find Dave Shaw. For more than two years he had aggressively pushed his own limits, seeking out difficult training and dives that would stretch his limits. Ann was convinced that he enjoyed diving more for the challenge than for the intrinsic experience. But the Yucatan caves are all about the experience. They’re interesting and engrossing– often amazing–but for a diver of Shaw’s

would continue on. They stopped briefly; Shirley gave a goodbye wave and Shaw and Campbell swam into the tunnel. Once again they entered the long vertical shaft and dropped toward the bottom. But they were slower than they should have been, and when they reached the new end of the line at 148 metres, they had no time left to push on. Instead, they turned to begin their ascent and decompression. Still it was a notable day for Shaw: 148 metres (another computer showed 152), 3 hours and 59

built the Hammerhead in small batches, assembling the units at his shop in California. Shaw reached Juergensen and spoke with him. Shaw gave the phone to Shirley, and Juergensen walked Shirley through the circuitry. But Shirley still couldn’t locate the problem. The time was now past 9 pm, and Shaw wished Shirley good luck and went off to bed. The two men didn’t discuss how the problem might affect the plans for the dive. But Shirley thought he knew the answer. The dive was ready to happen.

choice. The line was stuck. Herbst and Roux dropped down to release the snag. As they were pulling it out, Herbst saw the three 150 metre tanks rise up from the depths. He reached out, grabbed the tanks, quickly removed them from the shot line and clipped them onto his harness. These were the last of the cylinders on the line. At about this time, Herbst’s handheld cave light flashed on braided white line–the shot line–hanging straight up and down in the darkness behind Roux, running up from the

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