Tragic last dive of Eric De Vries

Posted: 12/08/2011 in all marine news

Hank Schouten – 

Eric De Vries died doing what he loved, which was heading out to the water as often as he could to go free-diving.

His death at the weekend while spear-fishing off Pukerua Bay has left his family, friends and colleagues in shock, with many paying tribute to the man who touched their lives with his passion.

Mr De Vries, 52, got into difficulties on Saturday and apparently passed out as he was coming to the surface pulling up a kingfish he speared on Hunter’s Bank, about 10 kilometres offshore, between Kapiti and Mana islands.

He was a well-known member of Wellington’s small free-diving community who prefer to snorkel, holding their breath, than use scuba diving gear.

Yesterday, his “safe and cautious” approach to diving drew praise from fellow divers, and his colleagues spoke of his talents and love for his family.

Mr De Vries was married to Joanne and they had three children Rose, 24, Jules, 17, and Alexander, 14. Born in the Netherlands, Mr De Vries came to New Zealand when he was 21 and worked as a typographer and graphic designer in Wellington for the past 30 years.

Saatchi & Saatchi general manager Livia Esterhazy said staff were devastated because he had been such a huge part of the team at the agency for 27 years.

“Eric was an amazing guy, one of the last true gentlemen, hugely talented and passionate about his work, his family and his diving,”she said.

Colleague Leon Ramakers said he was tremendously talented and won awards for his typography for clients including Wellington City Gallery, Women’s Refuge and Mary Potter Hospice.

“It was a huge shock. He was so talented, reliable and careful with everything he did as well.”

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