By Stephanie Taylor Staff Writer
The Tuscaloosa News
TUSCALOOSA - The father of a University of Alabama student who died in a scuba class last year has filed a wrongful death suit against the instructor of the class, claiming she was providing private instruction to someone who wasn't a member of the class at the time.
Christopher Moore, father of 21-year-old Zachary Moore, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against instructor Allison Gibson and the agency that issued her scuba certification last Wednesday.
The civil suit, filed in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court, claims that Gibson was at the opposite end of the Olympic-sized pool giving a private lesson to someone who was not enrolled in the university or the class. The suit claims that Gibson had two assistants who weren’t properly trained or certified to supervise the drills the students were practicing in class that day. The lawsuit does not mention the university.
Gibson also faces a misdemeanor charge of criminally negligent homicide in Zachary Moore’s death after a grand jury reviewed the evidence and handed down an indictment in June. She turned herself into police on Friday and was released from jail on $5,000 bail.
The suit claims that Scuba Schools International, the Denver-based certification agency that certified Gibson to teach classes, didn’t adequately train Gibson to respond to the medical emergency.
The class had approximately 20 students who were taking part in what’s known as a ‘doff and don’ exercise. Divers remove their equipment, descend to the bottom of the 18-foot pool, recover their gear and ascend back to the surface while breathing compressed air.
The medical examiner said the Moore ascended too quickly, causing his lungs to over expand.
Scuba Schools International standards state that the maximum number of students for deep water training is eight to one, which can increase to 10 to two with a certified assistant or 12 to three with two certified assistants. The lawsuit states that the two assistants in class that day had only received Open Water Diver certification, not the Dive Control Specialist or Certified Assistant certifications required.
‘The Moore family very much appreciates the media’s interest in Zach and his life, but has no further comment at this time,’ said Mobile attorney Robert Mitchell.
Wayne Williams, the attorney representing Gibson in the criminal charge, did not return a call on Wednesday.