Deon Dreyer

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Deon Dreyer (7 August 1974 – 17 December 1994) was a South African recreational scuba diver who died in Bushman's Hole in South Africa.


Dreyer drowned while helping a team assembled by Nuno Gomes set up conditions for a deep, technical dive that was to take place later that week. According to first-hand accounts from those diving with him,[1] Dreyer was lost on ascent around 50 meters from the surface. It was claimed that this was probably due to a loss of consciousness caused by either oxygen toxicity or hypercapnia caused by high work-rate of breathing at depth.

A plaque was erected at the entrance to Bushman's Hole in commemoration of Dreyer. In the book Diving Into Darkness: A True Story of Death and Survival by Phillip Finch,[2] it was suggested that one of the reasons Dreyer's death created such an impression on the cave diving community was because of the plaque. Most other divers who die, even whilst cave diving, have their bodies recovered. However, for many years it was assumed that Dreyer's body would never be recovered from the cave because it was simply too deep, but the plaque was a continual reminder to cave divers that his body lay within.

Recovery of body[edit]

Dreyer's body remained in the cave until being discovered ten years later at a depth of 270 meters (890 ft) by renowned cave diver David Shaw. On 8 January 2005 an attempt made by Shaw to recover the body resulted in his death, and nearly claimed the life of support diver Don Shirley. The bodies of Dreyer and Shaw were ultimately recovered on 12 January 2005, while part of the staff was recovering part of the technical equipment.[3]

See also[edit]