Whatcom County diver’s air supply severed in fatal accident, autopsy shows

The State

A Lummi man was identified Friday, Oct. 28, as the commercial diver killed this week in an accident near the San Juan Islands.

Hank William Hoskins Sr. drowned when his air hose severed while diving in the general area of Sucia Island around 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26. He did not have a backup air supply, according to the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The crew on the boat reported he had been underwater for about five minutes before he could be pulled on board. He was rushed by boat about 10 miles east of Sucia to Gooseberry Point, where aid crews and the U.S. Coast Guard helped to bring him ashore.

Hoskins could not be revived. He was 40.

Asphyxiation by saltwater drowning was the official cause of death, said Gary Goldfogel, the county medical examiner. Goldfogel ruled the death an accident. He noted, however, that it was an “unsafe dive operation,” with disregard for emergency procedures.

Hoskins, a fisherman who has lived on the Lummi Reservation for years, had one son and about 10 nephews on the Lummi Blackhawks football team. Out of respect for the Hoskins, the team’s game against Neah Bay was canceled.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb