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Joshua and Tadsana Devine: questions being asked about official reaction

Riddle of US Diver's Disappearance Off Phuket: Five Witnesses to be Carried Back to Shore

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
PHUKET: Five people from on board a dive boat where an American diver vanished at the weekend are being carried back to shore by speedboat to be interviewed by police on Phuket tonight.

The managers of the liveaboard vessel Chontara I have organised the interception at sea and speedy trip back to assist the investigation into the disappearance of American Joshua Michael Devine, 36.

Meanwhile, Mr Devine's wife Tadsana says she remains unsatisfied that Thai authorities have done as much as they should have to find her husband, especially immediately after he went overboard when there was a strong chance he was still alive.

''I was shocked when I heard the officer say there was just one Marine Police vessel capable of going to search in deep seas,'' Mrs Devine said.

''The Andaman coast is supposed to be tops for tourism in Thailand yet no money is being invested in seriously protecting visitors.''

She was told that Marine Police also had to handle three other issues at sea that day - including allegations of a collision between a diveboat and a yacht in which a Danish crew member was tipped overboard.

The result: the search for Mr Devine, who disappeared about 4am, was not begun by Marine Police until that afternoon.

The diveboat itself searched until Mrs Devine was able to board the Marine Police vessel, then continued on its planned voyage to the Similan islands.

The lack of information from the dive boat has led to increasing anxiety among Mr Devine's relatives in the US, with his mother and sister now trying to travel to Phuket.

According to a US report, Mr Devine's family believes there is a lack of urgency in the search. Thai authorities suspended the hunt for Mr Devine yesterday as Thailand celebrated its New Year.

The sole Marine Police vessel headed out to search again today but returned to port in the face of a storm.

Mrs Devine says that Joshua had a long record of involvement with Mermaid Diving, the company managing the Chontara I.

''He learned to dive through Mermaid and over the years qualified as an instructor with them,'' Mrs Devine said.

''Joshua made several trips to Phuket without me to dive so I can't say precisely how strong his connections were with people there.''

Mr Devine, formerly in the US Army, was an IT contractor in Kuwait working with the US military at the time he and his wife came to Phuket last week for their Similans diving adventure.

The Chontara I sailed at midnight on Friday and Mr Devine shared drinks with some others on board. At one stage, Mrs Devine said, her husband appeared agitated and said he wished to be alone.

The two people drinking with him in an equipment storeroom left him alone for 10 minutes. When they returned, Joshua had vanished, Mrs Devine said.

Mrs Devine and her husband's friends say he was not suicidal but Mrs Devine says his demeanor changed when drinking alcohol.

An officer at Cherng Talay Police Station, Lieutenant Thanapob Rattanaburi, will interview the five people from the dive boat once a minivan carries them south to Phuket from the Tablamu Pier in Phang Nga, the province north of Phuket.

The speedboat is due to arrive about 6pm. The dive boat is due about midnight.

Police have alerted the Royal Thai Navy, police stations and fishing networks along the Andaman coast north of Phuket that a diver is missing.

One US report of Mr Devine's disappearance comes from as follows:

When Jennifer Bakowski received the call learning her brother was missing, she was told he had been drinking heavily on the ship and at about 3am essentially had a melt-down.

''He saw a little red light in his cabin and he flew off the handle, ripped the light off the wall and said, 'They are watching me, why are you watching me,''' she said. ''That paranoia doesn't happen when you are drunk.''

He was making a lot of noise and was breaking things. His wife said he tried to choke her.

At that point two men, who are acquaintances and have been on dive trips with Devine before, came to his room and tried to calm him down. They brought him to a storage room on the ship and tried to talk to him, she said.

''He sent them away. He said he wanted to be by himself,'' she said. ''They left him alone and 10 to 15 minutes later they went back and he was gone.''

Later Bakowski said she heard another version of the story where Josh appeared in the captain's room naked. He stayed a few minutes and then left.

''That was the last time anyone saw him,'' she said. Around 4am his wife reported Devine missing and the captain woke up other passengers on the boat and started a search.

More frustrating is trying to get information from half-way around the world and during the Thai New Year's festival where nearly everything seems to shut down, said Bakowski, who now lives in Enfield, Connecticut.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Search and rescue not available. if I would be a diver and hear this story, I would not come here. Low season not with incidents on sea.

Better know before, where to call to charter a private helicopter, just in case. Now the search area is quite enormous.

The Thai diving companies should entertain the idea of bringing protocols of how to handle incidents on sea to all of them. And all should declare that they will follow them, or they shall loose their license.

The marine police should be able to get helicopters into the air as soon as possible. With its binoculars and on frog level they miss someone too easy.

And the diver (aka his/her insurance) should have to pay for getting rescued.

The "Ah, a drunk vanished. Shit happens." approach seems not a reasonable idea.

Posted by Lena on April 14, 2015 18:35


Surely there is a way probably outside of Thailand to track currents at that time as clearly he would not be in the same location if there was a strong tide. Let's hope the tide was inland and that he maybe on a small Thai island or perhaps picked up by a fishing boat.

Posted by Welcome To Paradise on April 14, 2015 18:42


Rip it can easily happen lost a colleague like this and the only answer the authority presumed he slipped whilst being sea. Sick

Posted by Michael on April 14, 2015 18:53


Why go on a diving trip and get completely drunk ? Argued with his wife in very early morning (around 3 AM), how can he enjoy diving in the morning ?
Difficult decision for the Captain but understand that the other 22 Divers would like to continue their Diving Trip. They spend a lot of money to come to Thailand and have this Diving experience.
Feel sorry that this happened. Different stories from each article so I actually do not understand the real picture. Break a lot of things, try to choke his wife and appeared naked in the Captains

Posted by Mj on April 14, 2015 23:53

Editor Comment:

Do alcohol and diving mix? Do alcohol and sea travel mix?


No offense to the grieving, dead and or missing. But you really have to admit that it does sound a bit like a plot to a Hitchcock film.

Posted by Donald Jackson on April 15, 2015 01:54


Every dive operator is required to have an EAP (Emergency Action Plan) for a variety of scenarios. Man overboard should be one of them.

Drawing up such plans is part of basic Dive Master training.

There are several qualified Course Directors and other dive experts on the island who can quickly verify the quality (or existence) of such plans.

It would be very easy to team up with local authorities and check every dive boat for such plans.

Equally make dive staff take Rescue Diver course exams to verify they have the required skills.

To improve safety standards is not difficult to do. Unless of course nobody's really interested in it beyond press release headlines.

Posted by Herbert on April 15, 2015 08:44


Since it's unlikely the local authorities will take such, if any, action, I recommend that every prospective diver on Phuket ask the dive operator to show them their EAPs before signing up.

It should be both in English and Thai so the boat crew can also understand it.

If they refuse, don't have any or worse, get annoyed by a customer concerned about safety standards, move along.

There are over 140 dive operators on Phuket. Plenty to choose from.

Posted by Herbert on April 15, 2015 09:54

Editor Comment:

What is an EAP?


@ Ed

From my previous post:

" Every dive operator is required to have an EAP (Emergency Action Plan) "

Basically a set of steps to take in case of an emergency. Much like a check list on an aircraft for example.

To have a thought-through procedure ready for situations usually creating great confusion significantly increases the probability of correct action being taken without delay.

This is mandatory for a PADI certified dive operator to have. A responsible tour leader and captain would run drills to help the crew memorize many of the steps to be taken so they can respond more effectively in case of emergency.

Posted by Herbert on April 15, 2015 10:10


@Herbert EAP is for dive incidents, not for drunk person overboard. There were more PADI dive instructors onboard that trip than any other liveaboard in Phuket and reading Mermaids statement crew and passengers done everything possible to find Josh on the surface. As you know drunk person have no chance even to determine where is up where is down once he hits water

Posted by john on April 18, 2015 15:33

Wednesday May 18, 2022
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