Tragic Incident: The Sorgente Bossi Cave Disaster Involving Diver Ronko Favaro Campini

Tragic Incident: The Sorgente Bossi Cave Disaster Involving Diver Ronko Favaro Campini
Incident LocationDiver Full Name
Sorgente Bossi Cave, Monte Generoso, ItalyRonko Favaro Campini

On October 28, 2006, a tragic event unfolded within the depths of Sorgente Bossi Cave. A passionate cave diver, deeply immersed in Italy’s speleology community, found himself trapped in an underwater prison from which there was no escape. Despite his extensive expertise and training, he became a victim of a harrowing sequence of events that would shatter the diving community. This incident would forever be remembered as the Sorgente Bossi Cave Disaster of 2006.

Exploring the Area

The outlet of the Cast Spring is located not far away from the village of Arogno, at the foot of Monte Generoso. It is one of the most important springs of Monte Generoso, surrounded by Lake Lugano to the north and west, Lake Como to the east, and the Capalago-Kiasso zone to the South-Southwest. The main massive has a surface area of about 50 square kilometers. The entire area of Monte Generoso contains more than 100 square kilometers. Access to the spring is restricted, and only certified cave divers with proper insurance can obtain the key for entry.

The Sorgente Bossi Cave, also known as “Sergente Bossi,” was first explored by Primo Meli from Rovio in 1974. Over the years, various divers explored the cave, reaching depths of 47 meters in 1985 and 89 meters in 1992. Luigi Cassetti was the first to reach the surface inside Monte Generoso in 1992. From 2005 to 2006, Luigi Cassetti and Jean-Jacques Bolos, along with Moroccan Penny, explored the dry cave system discovered behind the siphon.

The Diver: Ronko Favaro Campini

Ronko Favaro Campini, aged 40, was a remarkable individual with a deep passion for caves and an undeniable expertise in his field. As the president of the Exploring Academy, an association dedicated to organizing diving and underwater caving courses, Campini was highly regarded by his friends and peers. He had a diverse background, having graduated as a chemical engineer from the University of Bologna in 1992. Divorced and a devoted father, his life revolved around extreme sports and exploration.

Campini’s extensive experience in underwater caving dated back to 1984. He was an experienced mountaineer and a seasoned scuba diver, specializing in underwater speleology. His knowledge and expertise were recognized within the diving community, and he had contributed several articles on the subject to specialized magazines. Physically prepared and well-suited to handle challenging situations, Campini possessed various diving specializations, including limited visibility rescue operations, night diving, deep diving, and underwater speleology orientation.

Previous Endeavors and the Atawolfo 2000 Expedition

One of Campini’s notable accomplishments was his role as the technical planner for the Atawolfo 2000 Expedition in Bolivia. The expedition took place on the shores of Lake Titicaca, approximately 150 kilometers from La Paz. The objective was to locate and study archaeological sites of interest both on land and underwater. The expedition encompassed areas such as Copacabana, the islands of the Sun and the Moon, and the Strait of Tijuana.

The Dive and Preparations

On Saturday, October 28, 2006, Campini and his team arrived at Sorgente Bossi. Despite the restricted access to the cave, they were granted permission due to their experience and expertise as cave divers. The team consisted of four Italian-Swiss cave diving experts, with the objective of investigating the route taken by the spring waters and examining the unique features of the cave.

The day of their arrival was dedicated to preparing the cave for the dive scheduled for the following day. The team positioned deco cylinders along the outer branch for the return journey. The cave had a descending section, a horizontal rolling section, and an uphill section, leading to the dry part inside the mountain. The plan was to explore the aerial part on the other side of the siphon and make an exploratory progression before returning. This was part of a project in collaboration with the university to monitor the aerial zone.

Uneasiness and Insufficient Gas

On Sunday, Campini’s mood appeared sour, and he seemed uneasy. It is believed that he recognized the overly complicated planning for the dive, stretching beyond his comfort level, which caused his discomfort. However, Campini chose not to back out to avoid trouble for others and not waste the team’s commitment. Despite his uneasiness, he concealed it and proceeded with the dive. Diving while feeling uneasy can affect performance, especially in demanding and challenging dives.

Previous reports from Campini’s dives in the cave indicated higher-than-expected gas consumption. Despite this knowledge, Campini and his team failed to adequately prepare a sufficient amount of gas for their dive. Only three cylinders were carried, and only one of them contained breathable gas at the bottom. There were no spare tanks for that depth. The chosen gas mixtures for the bottom were not ideal, with a higher percentage of helium and a lower percentage of oxygen.

After completing the necessary pre-dive checks, Morrow initiated his descent into the cave, being the first to go followed by his partner in this expanded section, Morrow navigates through the rocky terrain with remarkable agility, displaying the familiarity and experience gained from countless previous visits to the cave.”

Morrow and his partner reached the first fork near the entrance to El Laminatorio, a section of the cave with two distinct passages. Within this area, the main guideline splits into multiple paths without any arrows to indicate the correct direction.

The El Laminatorio section and the inner part of the cave experience intense turbidity due to the mechanical disturbance caused by the gas bubbles exhaled by divers. This disturbance dislodges particulate matter from the cave ceiling, resulting in a significant decrease in visibility.

After losing sight of his dive buddy due to the extremely limited visibility, Morrow made the decision to go back and search for him. However, he turned around at the fork and mistakenly entered a dead end of the inner branch.

Forced to descend again, Morrow wasted a significant amount of time and gas. Eventually, his search for his partner proved fruitless, and he ran out of his bottom gas before reaching an altitude where nitrox50, a recomposition gas used during ascent, would be breathable.

Upon his partner’s emergence from the cave, he quickly noticed that Morrow was missing and sounded the alarm. A team of divers initiated the search for Morrow, and his body was found trapped at a depth of approximately 89 meters.

Once the body was recovered, it was handed over to the Swiss police for thorough investigation, and his cause of death was confirmed as drowning.


What happened in the Sorgente Bossi Cave Disaster?

A passionate cave diver named Ronko Favaro Campini got trapped in the underwater cave and unfortunately lost his life.

Where is the Sorgente Bossi Cave located?

The Sorgente Bossi Cave is located in Monte Generoso, Italy.

Who was Ronko Favaro Campini?

Ronko Favaro Campini was a highly skilled cave diver and president of the Exploring Academy, known for his expertise in underwater speleology.

Why did the dive in Sorgente Bossi Cave go wrong?

The dive encountered complications due to overly complicated planning, insufficient gas supply, and limited visibility, leading to the tragic outcome.

What is the legacy of Ronko Favaro Campini?

Ronko Favaro Campini’s legacy serves as a reminder of the risks in exploration, inspiring future adventurers to approach the depths with caution, preparedness, and respect for nature’s power.

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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