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Drowned diver's family files suit

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

The family of an Indian Shores man who died in a diving accident July 4 is suing the dive shop that rented him the tank and the company that made the compressor that filled it.

Garry Tuomey, 42, drowned after becoming incapacitated from breathing carbon monoxide-tainted air, according to the Pinellas County medical examiner.

He and three friends were diving off the coast of Clearwater, using tanks rented from Scuba Quest, at 3200 East Bay Drive in Largo.

The medical examiner's office found that three of the nine tanks rented from the shop were contaminated with carbon monoxide, and that a malfunction in a compressor filter at the dive shop caused the contamination.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Pinellas Circuit Court, charges that negligence by the shop and the compressor manufacturer led to Tuomey's death.

The suit was filed by his father, Robert Tuomey of Hudson, on behalf of Tuomey's estate. He also was survived by his mother, Lorraine.

John B. Kralovec, the Chicago attorney representing the Tuomeys, said the case is clear-cut. "It shouldn't have happened. It was wrong," he said.

An employee at Scuba Quest said the manager was out of the store for the day and could not be reached.

Bauer Compressor representatives at the company headquarters in Norfolk, Va., did not return a call seeking comment.

The suit charges that the compressor malfunctioned on July 1 and was purportedly repaired by a Bauer service technician, who left instructions for Scuba Quest on how to complete the repair.

Scuba Quest should have been more diligent, the suit says, and Bauer should have warned employees of Scuba Quest that further cleaning was necessary before use to ensure that the air used to fill the tanks was safe.