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Doctor's diving death is probed; Investigation into tragedy at Seahouses.

Byline: Joanne Butcher

DIVING association PADI is launching an investigation into the death of a Northumberland doctor in the North Sea.

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors has asked for a report into the death of Dr Ruth Fletcher, who died after surfacing unconscious off the coast at Seahouses, Northumberland.

Suzanne Pleydell, training director at PADI, said the association had asked for a report from Aqua North diving school, which was leading the dive.

"We understand the diver was an experienced PADI diver taking part in a recreational dive," she said. "We are saddened to hear of the incident.

"We have asked for a report from the organisation involved, and we expect that within a few days.

"However, until we receive the in-depth report, it is difficult to say what action we will take in this specific case."

The UK is one of the most difficult places in the world to achieve a diving licence, and PADI enforces stringent safety standards on their members.

It is still not clear exactly what went wrong on Dr Fletcher's dive last Sunday. A post mortem has been held, but further tests are still being made.

Northumbria Police is also making inquiries into the tragedy, and an inquest has been opened. Keen sportswoman Dr Fletcher, from Stocksfield, Northumberland, was experienced in the water and HSE-trained to give medicals to divers.

A former world quadrathlon champion, North East fell running champion and Scottish 100k title holder, Dr Fletcher was extremely fit and dedicated to sport. She was a former member of local clubs including Hexham Canoe Club, Tynedale Harriers, Tyne Triathlon Club and Northumberland Fell Runners.

Dr Fletcher was also a founder director of Leisure Tynedale - now North Country Leisure - the charitable organisation which supports and develops many of Northumberland's sports services.

Friends say they will remember her vibrant personality, her sense of fun, and her boundless energy and enthusiasm for life. Dr Fletcher lived alone, and her family were based in Derbyshire. She had studied medical sciences at Girton College, Cambridge, before completing her medical training at Newcastle University. She was a former clinical medical officer for child health and family planning in Northumberland and Newcastle, and became the clinical medical officer at Prudhoe hospital in 1980.

In 1990 she joined the Health and Safety Executive as an employment medical officer, medical inspector and consultant occupational physician. She most recently worked for Nuffield health as a locum doctor and Newcastle Premier Health as a consultant occupational physician, but was semi-retired. She was also a member of the Faculty of Occupational Physicians.

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SUCH A LOSS Dr Ruth Fletcher was an experienced diver
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 25, 2011
Words:439
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