To get a true picture of what Houston diver Terry DeWolf was trying to do when he lost his life exploring the wreck of the Andrea Doria this week, think of touring a museum at least 230 feet from the nearest breathable oxygen and at least 50 miles by water from the nearest hospital.
The site, deep in the Atlantic Ocean south of Nantucket, Mass., is the grave of 51 people who lost their lives when the luxury liner collided with another ship and went down more than 50 years ago.
It is also considered the Mount Everest of diving, a perilous plunge of more than 200 feet to the seabed that now, with DeWolf's death, has claimed the lives of 15 divers.
"It's a pretty dangerous dive," said Capt. Ed Ecker of the East Hampton Town Police Department. "I don't want to speculate, but what generally happens is that they either get the bends or something goes wrong with the equipment."
On Monday, the dive boat John Jack sailed out of Sportsman's Dock in Montauk, N.Y., ferrying DeWolf and nine other divers to the site of the wreck as part of the 2008 Andrea Doria Expedition, a charter led by Richard Kohler, a famous diver and television personality who gained fame on The History Channel's Deep Sea Detectives program.