NOVATO (KPIX 5) — A Mill Valley woman has been identified as one of the victims of the Southern California dive boat tragedy and even those in the dive community who never met her are feeling the loss.
Lisa Fiedler was a 52-year old hairstylist who worked out of Mill Valley’s Dagas Salon, but her true passion was shared between her stunning nature photography and her love of scuba diving. Fiedler took frequent dive vacations to spots around the world and Rick Rowett, general manager of Novato’s Pinnicles Dive Center, understands what drove her.
“Diving in the ocean,” he said, “when I first got certified, first time I tried it, I got completely hooked and it literally changed my life.”
He sold his business and became an instructor, and he now dives nearly every weekend. He’s been on the Conception, the vessel that caught fire, many times and said he can picture the wide open staircase leading up out of the boat.
“I couldn’t imagine how people would not get out,” he said. “So the only thing I can think of when I heard is that the fire had to be right there at the entrance and it was too bad for people to get past it.”
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Novato resident Natasha Rosenbach is hooked on diving as well; she plans to travel to Central America to teach it. But she says those who think scuba is dangerous are missing out on the adventure.
“Can you imagine just being able to breathe underwater?” she said. “And, like, be in an underwater world that has been so inaccessible to humans for such a long time…and now we have this ability to breath underwater.”
“Not only do I love the diving but I love the people that I meet when I go diving,” Rowett said. “That community is just fantastic.”
It is that shared sense of wonder and adventure that binds the dive community into a tight-knit family. Fiedler was part of that family and that’s why, even though the Novato dive shop had no connection to the tragedy, someone left flowers and a condolence note at the front door Wednesday morning.
The Novato dive shop frequently booked trips on the Conception and even had a trip planned on the boat for next month’s start of lobster season. Rowett says some people might be frightened by what happened, but he believes avid divers understand it was a freak accident and not an inherent danger of the sport.