A British graduate from Southampton Solent University tragically drowned on her first ever scuba dive, after she was separated from her diving instructor on The Great Barrier Reef.
Bethany Farrell, 23, from Colchester, Essex, was only a week into her gap year travels when the tragic incident occurred.
Having graduated in English and Media from Southampton Solent University she set off to Australia on February 17 with two schoolfriends to start the trip of a lifetime.
The girls were photographed smiling with snorkelling equipment prior to the scuba dive, though one of the girls decided not to partake in the dive and remained on the boat.
Bethany was found dead 36ft (11 metres) beneath the surface, just off the coast of the famous Whitsunday Islands – a popular destination for divers – after her instructor noticed she was missing. The rest of the group were diving at a depth of five metres.
A police investigation has been launched and equipment used on the dive has been seized, though the Farrell family have been warned that it may take months to reveal conclusions regarding Bethany’s cause of death.
A Queensland police spokesman has outlined that the incident is being treated as an accident.
Bethany’s parents, Patrick and Caron are still trying to get to grips with the devastating news.
Mr Farrell told the Telegraph: “She was on a supervised activity – she should have been safe”, which has raised questions as to whether Bethany was properly supervised during the activity.
Mr Farrell further added: “At some point, the diving instructor lost sight of Bethany and then realised he couldn’t locate her. He returned the other student to the surface, sought help and went back down, presumably with other people to help.”
Her parents confirmed that Bethany was a competent swimmer and had signed up for snorkelling lessons prior to scuba diving. They described Bethany as a “pure and gentle soul” to the Telegraph, and reportedly spoke to her on Skype two days before the incident occurred.
A spokesperson from Southampton Solent University said:
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Southampton Solent graduate Bethany Farrell. We were deeply saddened to hear of her untimely death.
Bethany’s body has now been repatriated to Britain and her funeral is due to take place in Colchester later this week.
Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of the student at this difficult time.