The Gainesville man who died in a cave diving accident last weekend at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park suffered an air embolism, an autopsy found.
Marson Kay, 29, died Saturday after getting trapped in a cavern while on a dive with Karst Underwater Research. The Medical Examiner's Office released its autopsy findings Thursday and said the cause of death was an air embolism, which can occur when a diver ascends too quickly, and a scuba accident. The investigation has been closed.
Karst Underwater Research posted a thorough conclusion on its Facebook page, which it said was based on eye-witness accounts and forensic evidence.
According to KUR, Kay made a successful dive into a cave at 180 feet and signaled he was exiting. From that point, a half-inch braided white rope leads up to 142 feet, where the crevasse area of the cavern begins. Although the cave narrows at that point, the rope continues, now colored orange and placed in the largest area leading to a depth of 68 feet, where daylight can be seen at all times.
Instead of following the ropes as he had done multiple times, Kay rapidly moved into a highly restrictive area of the crevasse. It's believed this behavior was not a calculated decision, but rather a reaction caused by the effects of an embolism Kay suffered while rapidly ascending, the KUR post says.
According to the coroner's evaluation, KUR says, Kay developed a cerebral arterial gas embolism.
"Typically, this causes profound changes in mental functioning, including disorientation, blindness, paralysis, seizures and loss of consciousness within minutes or seconds of onset." KUR says.
Kay pushed himself upward into an area that even side-mount divers could not easily access. Attempts to rescue him were unsuccessful.
KUR's post cites the inherent risks of cave diving and says Kay's death is a "great personal loss to all that knew and loved him, as well as to our team."