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Jacksonville Diving School Slapped with Second Wrongful Death Suit

— July 12, 2022

The CDA Technical Institute is under fire in a new wrongful death suit over the April drowning of one of its students.

The family of a man who drowned in the Trout River back in April while on a training dive is suing CDA Technical Institute’s Trout River diving school for wrongful death.

Image of a drowning warning sign
Drowning warning sign; image courtesy of
OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay,

The suit argues the diving school was negligent because it failed to “properly inspect the diving equipment, failed to properly maintain the diving equipment, failed to properly train student divers in the use of the equipment, and used unqualified student divers as stand-by rescue divers.” As a result, the family is seeking more than $30,000 in damages.

What happened? What led to the tragic incident? Well, it happened back on April 14 when Fausto Martins, 41, was pulled from the water during a training dive. He was unresponsive and his helmet was filled with water. The student was rushed from the diving school to UF Health Jacksonville hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A.J. Hernandez is the attorney representing the family. When asked about the matter, he said the family is “devastated about Martins’ death and is very concerned about safety at the school.”

It’s important to point out that this is the second wrongful death lawsuit against the diving school in a month. The first suit was filed by the family of a “21-year-old man who drowned while diving last year at Ginnie Springs.” To make matters worse, investigations discovered that “five people connected to the school have died since 2019.”

Then, earlier this month the president of the Association of Diving Contractors Inc. (ADCI) announced that CDA “was no longer affiliated with his organization, which means the ADCI will no longer issue certifications for graduates.” That’s a big deal because those certifications are required for most commercial diving jobs in the U.S. and abroad.

Phil Newsum, the executive director of ADCI also noted that when he tried to perform an “audit after two student divers died during school-sanctioned dives… CDA owner Ray Black chose to relinquish his membership in lieu of the audit, effective June 1.” Newsum said that while there are serious safety concerns, “he can’t pinpoint a problem without being able to inspect the equipment and training.” He added:

“You can’t eliminate and eradicate any type of hazards associated with diving period because diving is somewhat of a hazardous, you know, undertaking, but it’s one that you can mitigate out most, if not all, of the hazards if done properly, and you follow all of the requirements and you perform all of the risk assessments and everything else…And so this is very, very unusual. And I hope we never see anything like this again.”

He further stated:

“In my entire time in this industry, and certainly not in the position that I hold now going up on my 17th year, I have never seen anything like this…Moreover, I hope this industry never sees anything like this again.”


2nd wrongful death lawsuit filed against Jacksonville diving school

Family of drowning victim at CDA Technical Institute: ‘He was full of life’


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