Update, 2.15pm: Mystery surrounds the death of 22-year-old pearl diver Jarrod Arthur Hampton on a Paspaley commercial harvesting vessel off WA’s Eighty Mile Beach late Saturday.
Mr Hampton of Brighton, Victoria had been diving for wild pearl shell from the vessel, about 163km south of Broome, when he became “distressed” after surfacing from the water about 4.30pm.
Police said crew members helped Mr Hampton but he died at the scene.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said fellow divers had told her that when Mr Hampton emerged from the water, he was panicking and his mask was “full of foam”.
Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group spokesman Brad Winfield said volunteers were notified about 10pm Saturday that the vessel was making its way back to Broome.
He said the boat was capable of travelling about 10–12 knots an hour, meaning the trip back to Broome took about eight hours.
About 3am, sea rescue volunteers and police met the vessel and transported the young man’s body to Broome.
Several of his colleagues on the vessel did not respond to questions yesterday.
Specialist water police flew from Perth to Broome to aid local police, forensic officers and Worksafe inspectors.
The vessel’s captain had initially moored the boat close to Broome Port, but it was later moved to the company’s cyclone mooring halfway to Crab Creek to avoid boat traffic in the busy waters.
Paspaley executive director James Paspaley said he was deeply saddened by the man’s death.
“The relevant authorities have been advised and we are cooperating fully with all investigations to uncover the details of the incident,” he said.
“The safety and wellbeing of staff is of paramount importance across all Paspaley operations and we are focusing current efforts to support staff to deal with this tragedy.
“Our sincerest condolences and thoughts are with the diver’s family at this tragic time.”
The man’s family has declined to comment.A Worksafe spokeswoman said a report was being prepared.