Divers Made Decision That Prevented Certain 'Suicide'

Xisco Gracia survived 60 hours in air pocket after sending partner for help
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2017 8:25 AM CDT

A wise decision by two expert divers saved both of their lives, though one of them had to hold tight for 60 hours, 130 feet below the surface, experiencing hopelessness and hallucinations. The BBC reports on the extraordinary ordeal of Xisco Gracia, who was diving with a partner Saturday off of Spain's island of Mallorca when an equipment malfunction left the two with just enough air for one person to make it back up top. Instead of sharing what oxygen was left—what a member of the local underwater police tells the National Post would've been "suicide"—Gracia, in his 50s, and Guillem Mascaro decided Mascaro would take what was left in Gracia's tank and venture for help. Gracia remained behind in a cave's air pocket they found (the Post describes it as a sizable one, measuring about 40,000 square feet) with only "brackish" water to drink.

The air heavy with carbon dioxide, Gracia started imagining "lights or bubbles"; his oxygen-deprived brain made him think at one point five days had passed (it hadn't even been two) and Mascaro hadn't made it. Rescuers did actually get near Gracia fairly quickly on Sunday, but visibility was so bad (the water dark like "cocoa") they had to briefly pull back so they wouldn't get lost underwater. They even tried to drill a hole through the rocks so they could get food and water to him, but that effort was unsuccessful. Eventually, however, they found Gracia about half a mile from the cave's entrance, and the Weather Network shows a video of him emerging onto land Monday night around midnight on his own two feet, assisted by rescuers. He says he still plans on diving again. (An air pocket saved a toddler trapped under a boat.)

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