Diver's story of miraculous deep sea survival brought to Vernon

He cheated death

Tracey Prediger

Chris Lemons cheated death when his air supply was cut while working offshore in the North Sea as a deep sea diver.

His harrowing tale of survival was made into the Netflix documentary Last Breath.

Lemons agreed to come to Canada from his home in Scotland and tell his story as part of a fundraiser for the Emily Dahl Foundation and North Okanagan Hospice Society.

Sherman Dahl says he and his wife, who lost their daughter to suicide in 2019, were brought to tears watching the documentary.

Before telling his story at the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre, Castanet caught up with the inspirational speaker while taking in some World Cup soccer action on TV.

Lemons explained what went through his mind while lying on the pitch black sea bottom, 300 feet below the surface, with only six minutes of emergency air.

That was a brief moment of panic, followed by fleeting hope.

“I was definitely hoping, but that sense of trying to save yourself, you know that instinctive thing that we have, that deciding to save myself disappeared, really, you know and when I sort of curled up in a fetal position almost, panic subsiding, I was overcome by grief more than anything else.”

He was 32, had a fiancé. They were building a house and a life, and he was about to lose it all.

“I remember being sad, grief stricken and just bewildered that I was seemingly about to die in this very lonely and strange and ethereal kind of place,” he recalls.

It ended up taking his colleagues 35 minutes to find Lemons. They all thought they were on a recovery mission, rather than a rescue.

They hauled him to their diving bell, where his colleague Duncan gave him two breaths. Miraculously, Lemons sputtered to life.

"I assumed it was the extreme cold of the water that slowed my functions down. But the gas we breathe has a high concentration of oxygen, which saturated my tissues and cells to allow me to survive," Lemons explained.

That was just over 10 years ago.

Lemons went on to make his fiancé his wife, and they now have two daughters.

He says he'd love bring his family back to B.C. to share what he experienced in his few short days here.

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