Advert

True Story Of Married Couple Who Disappeared After Being Left Behind On A Diving Trip

Published 
| Last updated 

True Story Of Married Couple Who Disappeared After Being Left Behind On A Diving Trip

Back in January 1998, a married couple found themselves stranded in the ocean after a dive boat they were on left them behind. Their story ended up getting adapted into a film called Open Water - you can watch the trailer here:

Loading…

Eileen and Tom Lonergan, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, went for a day of exploration around the Great Barrier Reef on 25 January when they stopped in Australia on their way home from Fiji and Tuvalu.

Experienced scuba diver Eileen, 28, had persuaded 34-year-old Tom to take up the hobby and where better to go than the infamous coral reef.

Advert

There were a total of 26 passengers on a boat called 'Outer Edge' and they were looked after by skipper Geoffrey 'Jack' Nairn. They travelled 60km off the coast where the underwater adventure began.

After conducting a headcount of those on board, the boat returned to mainland.

The passports of Eileen and Tom were found on the dive boat. Credit: QLD Police
The passports of Eileen and Tom were found on the dive boat. Credit: QLD Police

Two days later, a bag belonging to the married couple was discovered on the vessel. This led to the suggestion that Eileen and Tom must have resurfaced from the last of the three dives to find the boat had left without them.

Advert

In the days that followed, a wide-spread air and sea search took place but, tragically, the couple were never found.

In February, a month after their disappearance, a wetsuit in Eileen's size washed up on the northern Queensland shore with tears to it that experts said would have been a result of contact with coral.

After that, dive jackets, tanks and one of Eileen's fins turned up as well. According to reports, nothing suggested their lives had come to a violent end (in the film Open Water, the couple are depicted as victims of a shark attack).

Tom and Eileen Lonergan
Tom and Eileen Lonergan
Advert

Months later, a fisherman found a dive slate 160km away which read: "[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!!"

The date on the slate shows that the couple were alive for at least a day.

The Outer Edge skipper was charged with manslaughter and explained how he had ordered a crew member to carry out the count, and the numbers had become confused because two passengers had jumped into the water halfway through.

He was later found not guilty by a jury. His company pleaded guilty to negligence and went out of business.

Topics: Film, News, Interesting

Rebecca Shepherd
More like this
Advert
Advert
Advert

Chosen for YouChosen for You

News

Pub Named After Mythical Black Dog Renamed To Be 'Anti-Racist'

a day ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

Entertainment

HBO Cancelled Game Of Thrones Prequel After Spending $30 Million On Pilot

4 hours ago