‘The kindest friend’: Woman in scuba diving death identified

 

The woman who died on a scuba diving course in the turquoise waters of Sydney's Gordon's Bay has been identified as grandmother Rebecca Rowell.

The 53-year-old hairdresser from Campbelltown is understood to have become unconscious underwater and was found floating on the surface with the breathing regulator detached from her mouth.

It was the first fun scuba dive since completing her certification course after having long been excited at exploring ocean life.

Grandmother Rebecca Rowell, 53, died during her first scuba dive after completing her certification course. She had long been excited at the prospect of exploring ocean life.
Grandmother Rebecca Rowell, 53, died during her first scuba dive after completing her certification course. She had long been excited at the prospect of exploring ocean life.


Her dive instructor noticed she was missing and pulled her from the water on to the shore at nearby Clovelly Beach at about 9.40am on Saturday where other divers frantically performed CPR before emergency crews arrived.

Surf Live Saving NSW crews rushed also to the scene in a helicopter, jet ski and inflatable boat.

She was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Rebecca Rowel died during a lesson at Clovelly Beach over the weekend. Picture: Facebook
Rebecca Rowel died during a lesson at Clovelly Beach over the weekend. Picture: Facebook


Her distraught husband Owen today said her unexpected death had shocked the family.

"I've lost my best friend, I want her to be remembered as the beautiful woman she was," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"I'm grateful to those who tried to save her."

Close friend Cindy Shaw said mother-of-two Ms Rowell, an itinerant hairdresser, lived for her family and was devoted to her two granddaughters, Mia and Imogen.

Rebecca Rowell pictured with her mum. Picture: Supplied
Rebecca Rowell pictured with her mum. Picture: Supplied


"She was a beautiful woman, loved her family and had married her best friend," said.

"Her family was everything to her, she was the kindest friend.

"No one knows what happened under the water, it was the first time she had been scuba-diving after completing her course."

Rod de Groot, operations manager of Pro Dive Coogee centre with whom Mrs Rowell was diving, said she was nervous on the morning but keen to explore the underwater world.

She was found unconscious and not breathing in the water for about 30 seconds when an instructor noticed she had become separated from the group.

Rebecca Rowell Pictured with her daughter and granddaughter. Picture: Supplied
Rebecca Rowell Pictured with her daughter and granddaughter. Picture: Supplied

"We brought her to the surface, brought her into shore. On the way in we were doing CPR," Mr de Groot said.

NSW Ambulance paramedics took over from performing CPR.

"Our paramedics took over and did everything they could, working tirelessly to provide lifesaving treatment and resuscitation before transporting her to hospital in critical condition," Inspector Karl Cronan said.

Officers from the Eastern Beaches Police Area Command are investigating the circumstances that lead to her death.

Gordons Bay is a relatively secluded rocky beach in the eastern suburbs which is popular with snorkellers and divers, but is not patrolled by life guards or lifesavers.

Originally published as 'The kindest friend': Woman in scuba diving death identified