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Buddy found guilty of Christine Gauci's fatal accident in 2020.

A court has found Arthur Castillo guilty of the diving partner of AFM soldier Christine Gauci, who died in a diving accident on Gozo in 2020. Christine Gauci died during a dive in January 2020 at Mġarr ix-Xini on Gozo. Following an investigation and trial, the court found her accompanying partner guilty of negligence that
Published: November 22, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 19:09
Buddy found guilty of Christine Gauci’s fatal accident in 2020.

A court has found Arthur Castillo guilty of the diving partner of AFM soldier Christine Gauci, who died in a diving accident on Gozo in 2020.

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Christine Gauci died during a dive in January 2020 at Mġarr ix-Xini on Gozo. Following an investigation and trial, the court found her accompanying partner guilty of negligence that led to the tragedy.

The day of the accident

On the day of the accident, Arthur Castillo met with Christine Gauci and four others to go scuba diving. The woman had returned from a long shift at work and admitted that she had not slept for 20 hours. However, she rejected the suggestion to cancel the dive and said it would do her good. Then at around 8:30 a.m. the group set out.

Arthur Castillo testified that Christine Gauci had swimming problems underwater. The man helped her as well as asked her if she wanted to continue. In response, he received a signal that she did. As the dive team plunged to depths between 16-28 meters, Castillo helped her release air from the inflator. Moments later, the woman became entangled with one of her fins in a broken fishing net. Nevertheless, she gave the signal to continue diving. Eventually, the man signaled for a return, and Gauci moved after him and again lost buoyancy. Wanting to solve the problem, Castillo handed her two kilograms of his ballast and they moved on.

Key moment of the dive and the death of Christine Gauci

Then, when he gave her a sign to stay close, the woman suddenly darted upward. Everything happened so rapidly that he was unable to catch up with her. The man testified that he saw her grab the mouthpiece of the second stage as she surfaced. Following the whole incident, the couple separated and lost sight of each other.

Castillo made an emergency ascent and, upon reaching the surface, noticed a figure in a black dry suit standing on the shore facing him. As he testified, he was convinced it was Christine Gauci. However, it soon became clear that it was another dive participant. Since the woman did not appear after another 5 minutes, the other dive participants called the emergency services. Rescuers found Christina Gauci in the water. The woman’s body was floating on the surface facing down. She had bloodshot eyes and foam on her lips.

Investigation and court verdict

She was later pronounced dead of natural causes – drowning in sea water. A diving equipment expert reported that Gauci had difficulty controlling her bu oyancy due to a malfunctioning dry suit addition valve and insufficient ballast. He concluded that all of this probably had an impact on subsequent events.

Arthur Castillo was charged with manslaughter. The court said that the prosecution must prove a connection between his behavior and the victim’s death. In the course of the trial and based on all the evidence presented, the court found that the defendant was negligent.

Among other things, the judge stressed that throughout the dive, various factors indicated that the victim had buoyancy problems. Despite this, the dive was not stopped. Although Castillo provided assistance during the dive, he failed in its final phase. He also incorrectly assumed that the woman swam back to shore after surfacing. On the other hand, although he saw her wrap her hands around the deco gas cylinder, he did not make eye contact with her or check her air supply. The court noted that the defendant made many assumptions without making contact with the victim.

Although Christine Gauci was a diving instructor, this did not relieve Arthur Castillo of his responsibilities. He made too many assumptions once it was clear that diving was causing problems for the victim. In fact, he had a greater responsibility to make sure she was safe, not just assume that. This unfortunate incident could easily have been avoided if the defendant had shown more caution and prudence, the noted the court.

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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