A British granddad died after his snorkelling mask filled with carbon dioxide while he was out swimming.
John Bazzoni had travelled to Karratha in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to visit his daughter, Nicola Roman, for Christmas 2017.
But during a snorkelling trip to Lady Nora Island with his son-in-law Sean Roman, a police officer, on New Year’s Eve, the 56-year-old, from Andover, Hampshire, got into difficulties.
An inquest in Winchester heard that Mr Bazzoni was wearing a Go Fun 180-degree full-face mask he had bought on Amazon after his moustache had broken the seal on traditional masks.
The painter and decorator appeared to be struggling about 20m from the boat, prompting Mr Roman to jump in after him when he began waving.
He said: “John stopped snorkelling, lifted his head out of the water and raised one of his hands. I think he called “Sean, come here”. I didn’t like John’s voice – it was panicked.”
Mr Roman said when he reached him, Mr Bazzoni grabbed hold of him.
He could see a cupful of water pooled in his father-in-law’s face mask.
He said he supported him until his friend, Simon Harrison, also arrived and was able to take him back to the boat, by which time Mr Bazzoni had lost consciousness.
He died despite attempts to resuscitate him.
Mr Bazzoni was a “poor swimmer” and had previously been helped from the water after panicking when water got into his snorkelling mask, the inquest heard.
Mrs Roman had warned her father about the dangers of the ocean, prompting him to reply that “he couldn’t think of a better way to die than snorkelling over coral in paradise”.
At the inquest, which was also attended by Mr Bazzoni’s other daughters, Amy and Victoria, Mrs Roman paid tribute to their father, saying: “Dad had a real joy for most aspects of life, apart from work.
“He was an adventurer, he enjoyed travelling, he loved us, myself and my sisters, and we were never in any doubt about that.
“He was a really fun person to be around and spend time with.”
Coroner Jason Pegg said there are “concerns globally” that such full-face masks do not allow exhaled air to be purged through normal breathing, leading to a build-up of carbon dioxide.
Recording a verdict of death by misadventure, he said: “John was swimming in the sea, wearing a full face snorkelling mask, when he got into difficulties.
“The mask restricted John’s ability to breathe by causing a build-up of carbon dioxide in the mask, as a consequence of which John developed hypoxia. His swimming ability and sea conditions at the time contributed to his death.”
He continued: “There are clearly causes for concern about the use of this mask, the Go Fun snorkelling mask full face.
“As a coroner, I do have powers to make a Prevention of Future Deaths report; however, Go Fun are no longer trading or selling this mask so I am unable to make a report as there is no-one I can properly write to about my concerns about using the mask.”
A post-mortem examination showed Mr Bazzoni died of hypoxia – oxygen deprivation – with a secondary cause of cardiovascular disease.