Boat passengers get letters from attorney on scuba diving death

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. - A lawyer with Prenner and Marvel, representing Coastal Scuba, sent letters to three people asking them to use caution when speaking to the media. This comes on the heels of one of them sitting down with NewsChannel 15 and talking about the death of a woman who died while diving with the company last Tuesday.

The letter says "should any investigation determine that the vessel's equipment was in proper working condition and/or that any deficiency was the result of operator error, any public comments to the contrary would be defamatory and Coastal Scuba will pursue all available remedies."

David Marvel wrote the letter and says he sent it because he wanted to talk to them about what happened that day.

But a divemaster who was also on the boat did not receive that letter. Kevin Kirk says as a professional diver, he was obligated to file a report with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) about the events surrounding the death of Karen Murphy. He's also shared what he says happened that day with a Coast Guard investigator.

After diving and taking pictures of his expedition, Kirk says when he came back up to the surface, he realized something was going on. "They had Mrs. Murphy on the back deck of the bow. The dive master was performing CPR, there was another nurse that was there beside her."

Kirk says he also helped with CPR because there was no emergency oxygen available.

"I was just extremely surprised that there was not a working O2 on the vessel," he says. "We've been taught in training that O2 can be a big benefit. Would it have been a benefit in that situation? I cannot say whatsoever."

Kirk adds he's concerned he may get a letter as well for speaking to NewsChannel 15 about the incident but said, "I just feel like there are some concerns, and I don't think we can say exactly because we don't know the cause of death or what actually happened to Mrs. Murphy, but there were enough concerns that I felt like they needed to be spoken of."

Even before the death of Karen Murphy, Kirk says he had planned to file a quality assurance complaint with PADI because of events leading up to the outing. "One thing I mentioned to my wife was the lack of a safety during the dive briefing, as far as where the O2 was located, an all recall if there was an emergency on the boat. So there were just a few things just like that. I told my wife I was probably going to file a complaint because of all the operators we've ever dove with, we really did not like how things were going on this one."

A Coast Guard investigator says they have taken witness statements, and they have all Murphy's equipment. It could be several more weeks before we learn Murphy's cause of death.

A memorial service for Murphy will be held at the Autenrith Funeral Home, Newport, NY on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.