Diving into the Depths: The Tragic Tale of Simon Halliday’s Last Dive

Incident LocationDiver Names
England, LancashireSimon Halliday

Simon Halliday, a passionate and experienced cave diver, decided to go on another dive in the Lancaster Hole on the 4th of January 2020. Although he was with his two friends, he chose to go on a solo dive this time around, and he was expected to have been done in 3 hours. But he never surfaced.

Lancaster Hole: A Remarkable Cave System

One of England’s greatest limestone cave networks, which extends beneath Cumbria, Lancashire, and the Yorkshire Dales, is based near Lancaster Hole, which also serves as a portal to the three-county system. George Conners & Bill Taylor found the hole in September 1946; it is located in Cumbria.

Everybody is welcome to explore the cave at any time of the year, but you must reserve your spot in advance. The hole was well-liked. The surprisingly unassuming entrance to Lancaster Hole is a manhole cover. Below, the pothole’s main shaft opens up, allowing skilled potholers access to the world-famous Easegill Caverns and Three Counties cave system. Simon Halliday was a remarkable individual who left a lasting impression on those who knew him.

He was a loving husband and a devoted father of two, and his family was the center of his world. Simon was born and raised in the charming town of Clitheroe, where he spent most of his life. He was a hard-working and dedicated individual who excelled in everything he set his mind to. He had a natural talent for the sport and quickly became one of the most skilled cave divers in the country.

Simon’s passion for diving led him to explore some of the most challenging and remote cave systems around the world. He had a particular fascination for exploring underwater caves, which required a unique set of skills and equipment. After taking a break from diving for two years, Simon decided to pick up the sport again while on holiday in Egypt.

It was during this trip that he received his dive qualification, which opened up a whole new world of possibilities for him. Simon was determined to push the limits of what was possible in cave diving and went on to accomplish many things that others could only dream of. Simon was an active member of the Northern Division of the Cave Diving Group (CDG), a community of passionate and dedicated cave divers.

Simon Halliday: A Remarkable Individual

He was respected and admired by his fellow divers, who regarded him as one of the very best. Simon was known for his tenacity and unwavering commitment to his goals. He was always the strongest member of the team and never shied away from a challenge. Despite his impressive accomplishments, Simon remained humble and approachable. He was always willing to share his knowledge and expertise with others and was a source of inspiration for many aspiring cave divers.

Simon’s infectious enthusiasm and positive attitude were contagious, and he had a way of making everyone around him feel energized and motivated. Simon Halliday entered the running club Clayton Le-Moor’s Harriers in January 2004. He was already a skilled and knowledgeable caver at this point, but he wanted to improve his stamina and fitness because he called himself the “fat caver” and was frequently seen at the bar.

He was constantly looking for and eager to meet the next challenge. He excelled at it, just as he had done his entire life, and went on to compete in some of the toughest fell races as a renowned fell runner. On January 4, 2020, Simon Halliday, along with his two friends David McDonough & Kevin Gannon, visited Lancaster Hole, a cave system in Lancashire, England.

Simon was an experienced cave diver who had explored this system before, and he planned to undertake a solo dive that would take no more than three hours. However, on this particular day, there was an unusually high amount of water flowing into the channel, which made the dive more challenging than usual. Despite the adverse conditions, Simon decided to proceed with the dive, determined to complete the challenge he had set for himself.

He was wearing a rebreather, which was allegedly still in development and not yet ready for purchase. The device was provided to him by Sump UK, a sporting goods company, specifically for this dive. A rebreather is an underwater breathing device that captures carbon dioxide from a diver’s exhaled breath, allowing them to recycle the significantly lost oxygen content.

The following was the final post Simon ever made on his social media account. “Just setting off now, I’ll be underground all day, will post something later.” These words would be etched in the minds of his loved ones forever. As Simon descended into the depths of the cave, he encountered a series of challenges that he had not anticipated.

The Challenging Dive

The water flow was stronger than he had expected, and he had to exert more effort to make progress. Despite this, Simon remained calm and focused, relying on his years of experience and training to navigate through the cave. After Simon left, his friends waited for four hours before becoming concerned. They knew that Simon could have lost track of time or encountered unexpected difficulties, but they also knew that he was one of the best in the business.

Therefore, they decided to stay an extra hour, hoping that he would show up. However, as the hours passed, their anxiety began to grow, and they eventually decided to contact the authorities. The Cumbria police were informed of Simon’s disappearance, and a rescue group for caves was immediately dispatched to the site.

The group consisted of up to 40 members, who were all experienced divers and had undergone rigorous training for such situations. They knew the dangers of cave diving and were well-equipped to handle any challenges they might face. They began their search at the spot where the cave divers entered the downstream route of Lancaster Hole.

The Rescue Operation

In case the cave diver had exited one of the systems somewhere else, the team members and cave diver also examined other entrances and potential exits. Sadly, the rescue diver found Simon about 196 ft (60 m) down the sump while doing the underwater search. This was just after 14 minutes. Simon’s oxygen supply pipe appeared to have been severed or ripped out when he was pulled from the water.

Although it was unclear if this occurred during the dive or after the recovery, Anthony Seddon was the diver who discovered Simon’s body. The casualty was retrieved from the water and brought back to the sump pool chamber, where it was immediately determined that he had passed away. The subsequent lengthy and challenging extraction back to the Fell’s surface involved all team members. The victim was then taken to Ball Pot Farm and placed in Cumbria Police’s custody.

Uncertainty Surrounding the Tragedy

Uncertainty surrounds the tragedy’s actual details. As we said previously, there was a greater than-usual flow of water into the tunnel. Although Simon did not consider this to be a problem, it seemed that during his time in the hole, the water current’s intensity grew. This could have made him use more air on his return trip when he would have been fighting the current.

If Simon had been under stress and had to breathe more heavily because his air was running out, this issue might have gotten worse. He may have needed to exert extra effort to stay “down” in the passage and prevent drifting towards the roof due to the increase in buoyancy that came with the emptying of his canisters.

Simon’s dive computers’ inquest data also supported the idea that he had shifted to his bailout option once his rebreathing apparatus failed. Since he was utilizing an experimental, not yet commercially available rebreather made by Andy Goring at Sump UK.

The equipment used a “straight fitting” into the rebreather, according to rescue diver Jason Mallinson. If such were the case, the fitting would not have unscrewed, according to him, because it has an “elbow fitting” with a 90-degree bend. As a result, Simon was in a race against time when his rebreather failed, stated Dr. Nicholas Shaw, assistant coroner for Cumbria. He was close to the surface when he died. Dr.

Shaw classified the incident as a misadventure and listed drowning as the official cause of death. Simon left a wife and two kids behind. Simon reportedly led a lusty life and made the most of each day, according to his wife. He was a devoted husband and father, and the incident had broken both of their hearts deeply.

Remembering Simon Halliday

The numerous comments on the Pegasus Diving Club’s memorial to Simon Halliday show how much of an influence he had on people’s lives. Malcolm Scothon, one of Simon’s pals, gave the following posts on the Pegasus diving club website: “I first met Simon shortly after I had qualified as an open-water diver. Pegasus had arranged an altitude dive at Hodge Close, and whilst I was excited about the trip, I was also feeling apprehensive.

A sad loss, Simon will be sorely missed, and I would like to think he’s now somewhere special, pushing his caving and diving explorations. My thoughts are with his family.”

It was an unfortunate incident for Simon, who was a dedicated, focused, and professional person. He had always set out to be the best at everything he did. A person who left a huge vacuum in the caving, diving, and friendship communities and was known for constantly pushing the frontiers of exploration.

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Where did the incident take place?

The incident took place in Lancaster Hole, a cave system in Lancashire, England.

Who was the diver involved in the incident?

The diver involved in the incident was Simon Halliday.

What caused the diver to go missing?

Simon Halliday went missing during a solo dive in challenging conditions with a higher than usual water flow.

How was the diver’s body discovered?

Simon’s body was discovered by a rescue diver during an underwater search, about 196 ft (60 m) down the sump.

What was the cause of death?

The official cause of death was drowning, and the incident was classified as a misadventure.

Patrick Broin
Patrik, a seasoned cave diver, shares his first-hand experiences and expert insights on the treacherous world of cave diving accidents.
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