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10 March 2011

Diver dies in Clean Up Aust Day event

Sky News -

Melbourne man doing his bit for Clean Up Australia Day has died after getting into trouble while scuba diving.

The 55-year-old was diving with a group of people in Port Phillip Bay, near Mordialloc Pier, when he signalled he was in trouble on Saturday morning.

He lost consciousness after being helped out of the water and was treated by paramedics at the scene before being taken to the Monash Medical Clinic at Clayton in a critical condition.

The Prahran man, believed to have been an experienced diver, died in hospital on Saturday afternoon.

Clean Up Australia chairman and founder Ian Kiernan said it was tragic news for the man's family and for everyone connected with the annual event.

'It's an absolute tragedy and we're deeply affected by it,' Mr Kiernan told AAP.

'We just feel so badly for his family that he was doing something good and something he wanted to do, using his skills as a diver and he's been struck down.'

Mr Kiernan said the diving fraternity had been strong supporters of Clean Up Australia Day over the years.

'They know what's under the water and it's their recreational environment they want to do something about improving and that's what he was doing.'

The official Clean Up Australia Day is on Sunday but some community groups make an early start to their events.

Mr Kiernan said the man's death was the first such incident in the 21 years of the event, although bodies - such as of drowned fishermen - had previously been discovered during Clean Up Australia Day.

He said the day would go ahead, albeit with a pall cast over it.

'The day must go on and he would have wanted that to happen, as an active diver and somebody who really cared about what's there under the water.

'We're greatly saddened by it, I can tell you, but the day's got to go on otherwise it turns into a double tragedy.'


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