On January 14, 2002, at approximately 12:57 in the afternoon, Mauricio Solis went for his last dive. He succumbed to a classic case of shallow water blackout while training in Grand Cayman, where we moved in November. From the physiological evidence, last sightings of Mauricio, and analysis of his watch, I know I was the last person to speak to him. Because of this, I am forever left with doubts, questions, and what ifs, even though I know logically that the only way I could have saved him is if I had been in the water with him. I am very proud of Mauricio’s freediving and hunting abilities and yet, I am torn between total acceptance. If it was his time, then I am glad that he was in his element to the end, yet I’m angry that he knowingly freedived alone over my many protests. Grief is a selfish emotion and although I am reasonably sure he is in a better place, I can’t help feeling that he left much too soon and that I lost him to freediving.
It takes just 2 seconds to make a mistake that can end your life. Mauricio promised that he would never push his limits and he wasn’t known to be a daredevil in the water. I’m sure that he didn’t realize it, but factors that he wasn’t aware of caused him to blackout. I just hope that if other freedivers, like Mauricio, choose to dive alone and think they are being safe, the danger is beyond your control.
Goodbye Chapparito Man. I will love you always.
Reprinted with permission Spearfishing Magazine