2 Jacksonville dive school deaths in 2 months, report says; petition calls for operations to stop

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two deaths in two months: 41-year-old Fausto Martins and 34-year-old Victor Pierce both died while training with CDA Technical Institute.

Action News Jax first told you when Martins drowned during a training exercise in the Trout River last Thursday.

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On Tuesday, we obtained a second police report revealing the details of Pierce’s death in Flamingo Lake in February.

Witnesses told police Pierce was lagging behind the dive group. When they went to check on him, they said he was unresponsive. That’s when fellow divers pulled him in, called 911, and gave him CPR.

“Where was his dive buddy at? Nobody leaves anybody,” former CDA Technical Institute instructor Christopher Martin said.

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Martin said he quit his job at the school after witnessing unsafe practices.

“There’s too many of us that know about it and we’re sick of it,” Martin said.

Former CDA instructor Mike Barron said these deaths are nonsensical.

“How experienced was the instructor?” Barron asked.

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According to Pierce’s drowning report, one of the instructors on site was 26 years old.

Barron believes that’s too young to be teaching divers.

“You’re 8-10 years in at that point before you should be teaching a class,” Barron said.

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The report also states alcohol intoxication was a contributing factor in Pierce’s death.

Both Martin and Barron said if an instructor suspected anyone was under the influence, they shouldn’t have been allowed in the water.

Every instructor is supposed to inspect their diver before they get in the water up to and including an alcohol breathalyzer test,” Barron said.

Now after two tragedies, the dive community is banning together.

An online petition was started on Monday. Petitioners want the school shut down.

“It’s not a game. It’s over and they need to know it’s over,” Martin said.

Martin and Barron are just a few of many who have reached out to Action News Jax with concerns about CDA Technical Institute.

Action News Jax found out over the past 10 years JSO has been called to the dive school 356 times. That includes several warrants served, suicides, assaults and other disputes.

We reached out to CDA once again and were told no comment.

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