Bushman's Hole Tragedy: The Story Of Deon Dreyer And Dave Shaw

Deon Dreyer was a South African scuba diver who died while diving in Bushman's Hole, also known as Boesmansgat cave, located in South Africa's Northern Cape. More than 10 years later, cave diver Dave Shaw died while trying to recover Dreyer's body.

Scuba Diver Deon Dreyer's Early Life:

Deon Dreyer was raised by his parents Theo and Marie in Vereeniging, a town located about 35 miles south of Johannesburg. Dreyer had a love for adventure and enjoyed activities such as diving, hunting, racing souped-up cars, and motorcycling. In addition, he was known for designing "obscenely loud car stereos."

Death Of Deon Dreyer In Bushman's Hole:

On December 17th, 1994, Deon Dreyer, who was 20 years old at the time, drowned while practicing a dive with a team led by Nuno Gomes. The dive was being conducted in preparation for a deep, technical dive that was planned for later in the week.

Dreyer was reportedly lost on ascent about 50 meters from the surface, according to accounts from divers who were with him. It is believed that he may have lost consciousness due to either oxygen toxicity or hypercapnia (a condition caused by high breathing rates at depth).

Dreyer was not the first person to lose their life in Bushman's Hole. In 1993, Eben Leyden blacked out at a depth of 60 meters in the cave and later died.

Efforts To Recover Dreyer's Body:

Two weeks after Dreyer's death, Theo hired a small, remotely operated submersible vehicle that was previously used by De Beers for mining purposes. When the sub searched the cenote floor, it located Dreyer's dive helmet, but his body was nowhere to be found. Despite multiple attempts, Dreyer's body was never recovered from Bushman's hole.

Dreyer's Body Was Discovered By An Extreme Diver Dave Shaw:

In October 2004, almost a decade after Dreyer's death, extreme diver Dave Shaw set a world depth record in the depths of Bushman's Hole. However, his triumph was overshadowed by a disturbing discovery he made during the dive.

At a depth of 270 meters in the silt at the bottom of South Africa's deepest freshwater cave, the remains of Deon Dreyer were discovered. Dreyer was the only person to have previously attempted to explore the depths of the cave, known as the Bushman's cave.

Dave Shaw, an Australian scuba diver, technical diver, and commercial airline pilot, had accomplished numerous diving records and achieved many impressive feats throughout his life.

Despite being unable to retrieve the body on their initial attempt, Shaw vowed to Dreyer's parents that he would return for their son's remains. True to his word, Shaw returned to the site, but unfortunately, this promise ultimately cost him his own life.

Dave Shaw's Final Dive – A Tragedy After Tragedy!

On January 8th, 2005, Shaw embarked on the 333rd dive of his career in the depths of Bushman's Hole. His team and Dreyer's parents were anxiously waiting, counting the minutes until his return. Tragically, Shaw never resurfaced and also lost his life while attempting to recover the body of Deon Dreyer.

How Had Dave Shaw Died?

Using an underwater camera mounted on his head, Shaw recorded his dive, providing researchers with valuable information about what happened. According to the footage, Shaw experienced respiratory problems caused by the high pressure. During the dive, Shaw encountered unexpected challenges when the body he was attempting to retrieve started to float.

Several experts had warned Shaw that Dreyer's body would sink due to being reduced to a skeleton, but once inside the wetsuit, the corpse transformed into a floating, soap-like substance known as adipocere.

Shaw had been using both of his hands to work, so he placed his can light on the cave floor. The can light is a powerful underwater light used by cave divers, which is connected by wires to a heavy battery canister. These battery canisters are usually worn on the diver's waist or attached to their tanks.

Normally, Shaw would have wrapped the wire behind his neck, but he was unable to do so. The lines from the body bag appear to have become entangled with the light head, and the physical effort of trying to free himself led to his death.

Shaw's camera footage showed him struggling to cut himself free while running out of breath, a task that would have been simple for a skilled diver at normal depths. However, the extreme depths at which Shaw was diving proved to be too much for him, and he lost consciousness and passed away.

He Kept His Promise:

Three days after their deaths, the bodies of both divers resurfaced near the top of the water as the dive team was collecting their equipment. In the end, Shaw kept his promise to his friend.

Dave Shaw's Final Dive: