Dr. Peter Bennett, founder and CEO of DAN, said he was thankful that all those divers who died aboard the Wave Dancer were DAN Members.

"In light of this tragedy, it's fortunate that the repatriation of mortal remains is a part of DAN membership," Bennett said.

The Divers Alert Network (DAN), the organization that touts itself as the industry leader in promoting dive safety, has been conspicuously silent on the investigation of the accident that killed 18 of its members.

No articles about the Wave Dancer tragedy have appeared in its publication Alert Diver  which claims to be the industry's "leading dive safety publication", and DAN has never actively pursued or called for an investigation into the accident and/or its causes.

Perhaps it is significant that Peter Hughes Diving is not only a Business Member of DAN, but also a "Corporate Gold Ambassador" that donates over $10,000 a year to support the non-profit group.

  • In the aftermath of the Wave Dancer capsizing, DAN contracts with International SOS  for assistance in repatriating the remains of the American divers.
  • DAN establishes a Memorial Fund for the families and children of the people killed on board the Wave Dancer in Belize and opens it to contributions from the public.
  • Email from RDC member:
I spoke with Joel Dovenbarger (1-800-446-2671, ext 236) at DAN.  He's the liaison for the DAN fund. DAN is working with the lawyers from Peter Hughes and the RDC to determine how to disperse the money. They've collected about $5000 + whatever DAN contributes themselves, which Joel told me will be several thousand. DAN doesn't want any part of deciding where the money actually goes, they want to let Peter Hughes and the RDC decide.

  • Memo to the RDC Board of Directors
I talked today to Wes Covington, the lawyer who represents DAN. It was  a sort of get acqainted call. He told me he anticipates approx. $10,000  will be collected under their banner. "Not wishing to appear to favor one side or the other," he wants some mechanism to be devised whereby  the money can be delivered to the families and to the Belizeans. He wanted input from us how to accomplish that.  This needs to be discussed at the board meeting tomorrow. I'll hold off until then.

  • The families of the Wave Dancer victims receive $500 per dead body from the DAN/Peter Hughes public relations fund/campaign.
  • Neither the 2001 nor 2002 DAN Annual Reports contain any mention of the Wave Dancer accident, or the Wave Dancer Memorial Fund.

Vision Statement

DAN's vision is to be the most recognized and trusted organization worldwide in the fields of diver safety and emergency services, health, research and education by its members, instructors, supporters and recreational diving community at large.

DAN strives to provide the most accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information on issues of common concern to the diving public, primarily, but not exclusively, for diving safety.

The following items are the only mention of the Wave Dancer Tragedy on DAN's web site:

News & Events
Memorial Funds Established in Wake of Wave Dancer Tragedy

As requested by Peter Hughes Diving, DAN has established a fund to benefit the families of the guests and three crew members who died Oct. 8 aboard the M/V Wave Dancer.

Officials of PHD said they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and sympathy from previous guests and dive industry professionals who have offered financial support in memory of those who died.

For further information about the fund, contact: Patricia Rose of Peter Hughes Diving (305-669-9391).

Members of the Richmond Dive Club also recently announced that a fund has been set up in memory of the 17 divers who lost their lives on Oct. 8 in Belize.

These donation checks may be made payable to "Richmond Dive Club Memorial Fund" and mailed to the following address:

First Market Bank
Attn: Richmond Dive Club Memorial Fund
1415 E Ridge Road
Richmond, VA 23229-5501


News & Events
DAN Continues Its Response to Wave Dancer Tragedy

Families and friends gathered Nov. 17 in Richmond, Va., to remember the 17 divers and three crew members who lost their lives aboard the dive boat M/V Wave Dancer during Hurricane Iris on Oct. 8. Richmond Dive Club members joined others at the memorial. The event culminated many other such memorials in Richmond, in Belize and elsewhere.

The memorial included music and a candle lighting. Dave DeBarger, a survivor of the incident and acting club president, read the names of each of the 17 divers and the three Wave Dancer crew members who died, as another club member lit small purple candles.

"In the past five weeks, we've been to too many ceremonies of loss," DeBarger said. "Today, we celebrate life. We are, all of us, survivors. What we have lost cannot be measured, but what we still have far exceeds that loss."

As requested by Peter Hughes Diving, owner and operator of the Wave Dancer, and members of the Richmond Dive Club, DAN established a fund to benefit the families of the guests and the families of the three crew members. DAN can accept donations on a credit card via phone or via the following website at http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/wavedancer/

Donation checks, earmarked for Wave Dancer Relief, should be made payable to Divers Alert Network and mailed to: Divers Alert Network, The Peter B. Bennett Center, 6 West Colony Place, Durham, NC 27705.

With the exception of two crew members, all those who were lost in this tragedy were DAN members. Thus, DAN TravelAssist, in cooperation with the DAN Medical Department, worked to repatriate the remains of those who died.

Dan Nord, Director of DAN Medical Services, acted as liaison between DAN and TravelAssist. "At our direction, DAN TravelAssist contracted with a carrier to fly down to Belize from Toronto, Canada, and fly the remains of those divers back home," Nord said. "We worked hard on behalf of our members and, despite the extensive damage throughout Belize caused by Hurricane Iris, we were able to expedite the return of our members’ remains to their families."

News & Events
Response to Tragedy Underscores DAN’s Unique Role

No one could imagine a tragedy the magnitude of the one that occurred in Belize, causing suffering to friends and family of those 17 DAN Members from the Richmond Dive Club and survivors. DAN mourns their loss and offers sympathy to their families and friends.

When news of the Oct. 8 event reached DAN, Dan Nord, Director of DAN Medical Services, sprang into action, calling DAN TravelAssist, which provides for evacuation or repatriation of DAN Members. "That morning, immense sadness and grief spread through our medical department and throughout DAN, especially as we learned of the magnitude of the loss," Nord said. "However, despite our sorrow, this was no less of a delicate affair requiring cautious planning and decisiveness."

How DAN responded in this tragedy illustrates a major benefit of DAN membership, said Joel Dovenbarger, DAN Vice President for Medical Services. "Just like DAN’s response to dive emergency calls, medics were available to plan and help effect the return of survivors or the return of remains to the United States," Dovenbarger said.

Dr. Peter Bennett, founder and CEO of DAN, said he was thankful that all those divers who died aboard the Wave Dancer were DAN Members. "In light of this tragedy, it’s fortunate that the repatriation of mortal remains is a part of DAN membership," Bennett said. "When we began offering benefits to the dive community, we had to consider the needs of divers in a worst-case scenario."

Added Dan Orr, DAN Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer: "The type of service, available even in times of tragedy, is an example of DAN’s unique role in the dive industry."

Divers Alert Network
Steve Glenn
Heather Johnston
Undercurrent Online

All contents of this site © 2005 Milly Armao, except where otherwise noted.