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May 2005 Vol. 31, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Plot for Your Next Pulp Fiction Novel

from the May, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The widow of a Southern California man who died while scuba diving is suing his buddy for $4.5 million, alleging he caused his death, reports Peggy Lowe in the Orange County Register.

Daryll Shatz, 55, who had made 100 dives, died while diving with his buddy, Steve Feldman, 20 yards off Montage Beach near Laguna Beach in November, 2003. According to an investigation done at the time, Shatz’s air hose became disconnected and his buoyancy compensator failed, said Capt. Danell Adams of the Laguna Beach Police Department. The Orange County coroner ruled the death an accidental drowning, she said. “Nothing out of the ordinary was discovered,” Adams said.

However, his wife alleges in the wrongful death lawsuit that her husband didn’t die because of an equipment malfunction. Or because he panicked. Instead, Feldman failed in his role of dive buddy, a “special relationship” that required him to come to the aid of his buddy, the suit says. In fact, she even thinks that Feldman might have murdered her husband.

“Darryl Shatz was a meticulous, careful diver who’s a computer programmer, analyst and scientist by profession, a person who took the most meticulous care of his equipment and his scuba dives just as he constructed his computer sites,” said Lon B. Isaacson, Palmer-Shatz’s attorney. Palmer-Shatz believes Feldman removed some of her husband’s equipment so he would drown to prevent Shatz from telling authorities about a hit-and-run that Feldman’s daughter had been involved in.

The suit alleges that Feldman confided in Shatz before the dive that Feldman’s daughter, who was on probation, had been involved in a hit-and-run accident. Feldman asked for Shatz’s advice on how to handle it, the suit says, and Palmer-Shatz believes that her husband told Feldman to report his daughter to the police.

“Feldman wanted to keep Shatz from telling others, including the authorities, that Feldman’s daughter had been guilty of committing an illegal hit-and-run accident,” the suit says. But Feldman said he told Shatz about the accident months before the dive and it was, in fact, just a “fender-bender.”

Feldman, who lives in Mission Viejo, vehemently denied the allegations, saying he tried to help a panicked diver as best he could. “Tragedies do happen without the other person being at fault,” Feldman said. “I grieve for the loss of a close and dear friend. I grieve for my friend’s family and his wife, as well as for the impact of the tragedy on my own family and friends.”

And, dear readers, if you decide to turn this into your next novel, we suggest you create a better motive. This one seems like a stinker.

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