MIAMI - The International Association of Free Divers has released a report saying that the death of "no limits" diver Audrey Mestre during a world-record attempt was an accident with no single cause.
The report was released Wednesday, more than three months after Mestre's death in the waters off the Dominican Republic.
While it mentions mechanical problems and bad weather as causes of the fatal dive, the report fails to address questions about the number of safety divers in the water with Mestre and fails to discuss implementing safety procedures used by other free-diving organizations.
Mestre, 28, died Oct. 12 while attempting to break the depth record set by her husband, Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras, who also is founder of the IAFD and a world famous free diver.
She was competing in the "no limits" version of free diving, in which divers take a deep breath, plummet to depths of hundreds of feet using a weighted sled and then rocket back up to the surface when air tanks are inflated.
Her dive of 561 feet was supposed to take three minutes. But Mestre's limp body was carried part of the way by safety diver Pascal Bernabe and brought out of the water by her husband more than 8 1/2 minutes after she took her last breath.
Mestre, of France, was awarded the IAFD record posthumously based on a 558-foot practice dive she completed Oct. 9. That broke her husband's previous record of 531.5 feet.
The report said Mestre's ride down and up on a weighted cable took longer than expected because the cable was lighter then the one used in practice dives and a concrete weight was substituted for a lead one at the bottom.
Stormy weather made the cable move more from side to side, which hadn't happened before, the report said.
Also, a lift tank was not fully inflated and an air bottle could have leaked, which didn't allow for Mestre's quick ascent to the surface. Instead, she made it up to 540 feet on the sled before Bernabe tried to inflate it with his regulator. Mestre made it up to 394 feet before she blacked out and drifted off the sled.
"It is possible that the compressed air bottle used for lift bag inflation was not fully filled, but this factor alone would not have been responsible for all the difficulties encountered," the report said.
"It is clear that there was some air in the compressed air bottle. The lift bag, upon inspection after the accident, did show a section of wear that could have been the cause of some leaking."
Free divers and fans have criticized Ferreras' organization for failing to release a video of the dive and other data taken during Mestre's dive. Some alleged there were not enough safety divers at staggered depths during the fatal dive and said the delay in the report was leading to suspicions of a cover-up.
While the video has not been shown, the report is the first explanation for the death from the organization.
But it does not say how many safety divers were in the water. It also doesn't address suggestions made by a competing free diving agency, AIDA, to adopt its procedures of equipping safety divers with lift bags and ropes to deliver an unconscious free diver to the surface.