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All Black cousin's death needless: coroner

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/02/2017

A cousin of the late All-Black Jerry Collins who died while scuba diving near Wellington lacked experience and should not have been left on his own, the coroner has found.

Willie Collins, a personal trainer and keen rugby player, ran out of air during a 2015 scuba dive with two friends.

Coroner Tim Scott said the trouble began when a more experienced companion found Mr Collins was low on air and directed him to head to the shore on his own.

However, had the companion stuck with Mr Collins or had all three divers kept together, it would have been "highly probable that the tragedy would not have happened", Mr Scott said.

"There would have been someone available alongside Willie to assist him if and when he got into trouble," he said.

The report found that Mr Collins' lack of training prevented him from recognising he was going to use up his air supply before he reached the surface.

Had he recognised this he could have taken actions that would have probably saved him, including ditching his weight belt and catch bag.

Later, when Mr Collins' friends returned to the surface, they noticed he was missing and eventually found him unconscious in about 4-to-5m of water.

Attempts to revive him with CPR were unsuccessful.

Mr Collins' death was the second tragedy to strike the Collins family in 2015, after his famous cousin Jerry Collins and partner Alana Madill were killed in a car crash in France.

His death also came just a little over a week after another diver was found dead on the sea floor further around the south coast of Wellington, near Red Rocks.

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