Close Call

I have not seen Tatay Dave since December (the biggest open water class I ever assisted). It feels like I moved to another country, but you know we live in the same neighborhood, if I was fit, I’d walk instead of huff and puff to his house.

The other day I got a call from him and he shared the horror of losing his Jet fins. I write about this now because I know that there are other Diveshoppe family members who work as underwater videographers or assistants in various underwater productions, or search and recovery services.

Dave and Jett went diving in La Mesa Dam to take videos of a newly erected structure. They checked with the official gate keepers of the dam to make sure that the gates were shut before they dove. The personnel at La Mesa Dam assured them that the gates were shut. And so down they went, camera in tow. They were able to film one side of the structure. When they moved to film the other side, they felt the force.

A powerful (try hand of God) rush of water almost pulled them away from the structure they were filming. They were in an upright position, checking on what seemed like columns. The rush of water pushed down on Dave and his knee scraped against the bottom. As lady-luck would have it, Dave was able to hold on to one of the metal pieces attached to the structure. He heard Jett and was able to grab hold of him amidst the horrific madness.

I cannot even begin to imagine the force of bazillion cubic meters of water falling through an open gate at La Mesa dam. And it’s something I wouldn’t really want to feel.

The struggle that ensued next is something I can only call unbelievable. Because the falling water was so violent, Dave’s fins were torn off his feet. Can you imagine anything more forceful? I have the same pair of Scuba pro Jet Fins, and the rubber straps are very sturdy. I have been through strong currents and they have propelled me. Those fins are difficult to come off. The water’s might almost defeated them.

Almost. Dave chuckled through the story as he told me, but I kept going “oh sh*t” in my head. I had visions of Hashana too.

He only lost fins thank God. Expensive yet replaceable. Unlike this Dave who is a much loved dive instructor, friend, father, husband and brother. While I am thankful that he only lost fins, I am praying that something like this doesn’t happen again. Not to him, not to anyone.



  1. Omigosh … that’s just beyond words. I had to re-read this article several times just to get things straight. If it were any pair with less experience there, something horrible would have happened.

    Those gate-keepers though are another story … a good whack in the head is what they need … tsk tsk …

    The fins can be replaced … Dave can’t be …

  2. You know Albert, I was thinking the same thing. If they hired other people instead..they might not have been so quick to react..hala na.

    uy Jett, irreplaceable ka din ha. I was just overwhelmed when Dave told me all about Hashana kasi.

  3. Of course Jett is irreplaceable din … napabilis lang and pindut ng “submit” … Ali kasi eh … sa story, puro Dave and binangit … 🙂 Putris … buti na lang nakakapit si Jett at si Dave …

    Shucks, no one is worth La Mesa … especially if its just taking video … buti naman if its some movie kinda thingy wherein someone was poisoning the water shed … 😉

    Basta … batok and kailangan nung mga gate-keepers na yun …

  4. close call indeed!
    i heard the story straight from the horses’ mouth.
    let us thank the Almighty for nothing serious na nangyari to dave and jett only minor scratches sa legs.
    i just hope that the contractors should and must replace your fins with corresponding fee like hazard fee, combat pay 🙂 and everyday buffet and unlimited
    alcohol beverages to all diveshoppe members . . . . hehehe.
    kidding aside HOOOOOORAH and TOAST, dave and jett, to another new life!

  5. Just opened our sight now….I was suprised there was an article about what happened to both Jet and myself. Yes it was a very scary moment…but thank God that we are still alive. I guess a big factor was that Jet and I had a lot of experience under our belts and were able to come through safely from the incident with the help of proper instincts and presence of mind. What I am praying and working for right now is that this never happens to anyone else again, The Manila Water Contractors Have to learn from this and prevent it from happening ever again.

  6. Yup, we almost lost Dave and Jett last week, February 12.

    Weird thing is… while they were being suctioned by the force of the water, this was around 1:30 pm, the same time out of the blue… I had the urge to share with my officemates that my husband was at the La Mesa Dam taking video of the posts and clamps and that there were previous incidents of children getting suctioned by the intakes and that I had the chance to dive the La Mesa Dam and it had zero if not negative visibility…One of my officemates out of concern instructed me to inform Dave to be careful. Less than 15 minutes after my sharing, I got a call from Dave, and before he can blurt out what happened, I said “NAHIGOP KA ANO?” and with voice trembling he confirmed my worst nightmare – that he almost got sucked by the intake.


    Here’s an excerpt from Dave’s incident report to Boy Siojo :

    “The problem happened when we started the left side…again we asked Mr. (Greg) Ortega’s people to make sure the gate valves were closed first. When we were given the assurance that they have closed the valves we went into the water. We went down the first Rod on the left side….no problem…it went down to 25 feet. Then we Started going down the second rod which was supposed to go down to 50 feet. As we were going down in a vertical position and as I approached the 5th clamp on that rod and was about to finish the shoot both my feet were suddenly sucked into an opening. I could only assume that it was an intake. I quickly grabbed on to the Rod so as not to be completely sucked in, because I would never be able to get myself out. If I had been sucked in then I would surely be banged around and trapped by the suction and would have been eventually drowned. My Buddy Jett, who was always on my left side during our dives on the Rods was holding the flashllights so I could video properly, he too was suddenly sucked in. This all happened all so suddenly. We held on as hard as possible on the rods and slowly tried to pull ourself up. Eventully both my fins, one after the other were ripped off from my feet (almost taking my booties with them) and this caused the suction effect to lessen and I was able to reach the level were the intake did not have as much an effect on us. On the way up Jett showed me that he too had lost both fins. Jett and I slowly climbed up, both of us in disbelief of what happened…..and what could have happened to us!!!.

    This was a very scary moment for both Jett and myself, we hope this never happens to anyone else. I personally am a very strong swimmer, but what I felt when my feet got sucked in was a feeling of helplessness, where your feet are almost completely immobile and all you could do is crawl up and pray you get out of that horrible and terrifying position. Thank God for our safety.”

    Jett had nightmares after the incident and Dave is continually bothered with thoughts of what could have been if he got sucked in…

    The concerned parties (Manila Water & the contractor) have been informed of the incident, the project has been stopped and investigation is still ongoing. Dave and Jett’s fin has been replaced as of yesterday. But it does not end here…


  7. Dave, I have no words…

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