Diver trapped for five minutes in total darkness
A family outing took a bizarre turn for the worse when scuba diver Christopher Le Cun found himself sucked into the intake pipe of a nuclear plant.
While on a dive trip (in July 2015) with his family and friends off Port St Lucie in South Florida, Le Cun spotted some shadows underwater and dove in with a friend to take a look. While underwater, he found himself caught in a current, and then he was suddenly sucked into the intake pipe.
“When I was first sucked into the pipe, it was so turbulent it was unbelievable. […] I had to hang onto my mask. It was 20-30 seconds before I got my bearings.”
For five minutes, Le Cun was violently tossed about inside the intake pipe, travelling as much as 350 metres. During the time, he contemplated taking off his mask, as he imagined the turbines at the end of the pipe. However, he thought about his family, and changed his mind.
Suddenly, he saw a light in the distance, as if someone lit a match. “Then all of the sudden, it was on me. It spit me out into the sunlight into this canal and there were tons of fish around.”
Le Cun ended up in a pond at the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant.
A worker there said that Le Cun had been lucky, as they would have left for the day five minutes later. Using the worker's mobile phone, Le Cun called his wife who was still on the dive boat. However, he could not reach her, as she was calling the coast guard and other authorities for help.
Having survived the ordeal, Le Cun is filing a lawsuit against Florida Power & Light Co., the operator of the power plant, for not properly labelling the intake pipe and placing his life in danger.
A spokesman for the plant refutes this, saying that “there is an eight-foot buoy floating at the point of the intake piping, which has been in place since the plant opened, and states that people should stay 100 feet away. There are three intake pipes, which extend for a quarter mile along the floor of the ocean, and the one that the diver swam into is 16 feet in diameter with a protective cap.”
Sample Video of a professional diver working at an intake pipe of a nuclear power plant.
While Le Cun agrees that there had been a buoy (the dive boat had actually been tied to it), he said there was no notice telling people to keep away. As for the protective cap, he said that “that thing is not designed to keep anybody or anything out.”
Actually, this is the second time a diver had been sucked into the intake pipe. The first incident occurred in 1989, to diver William Lamm, who described the experience: “I thought I was dead. It was darker than any dark I have ever seen. I tumbled and bounced all over the sides of the pipe.” (Link)
As for Le Cun, the incident has left him with emotional scars. He described diving as “something I've always enjoyed with my family and friends, but I've only been in the water once since it happened and I didn't enjoy it. Maybe someday I'll do it again.”