What Actor Justin Theroux’s Near Dive Fatality Can Teach Us


The perfection of his Bora Bora honeymoon was almost shattered by a questionable divemaster for actor Justin Theroux recently. On his lavish trip with new wife Jennifer Aniston, Theroux took an introductory dive course and spent a day in 10′ of water enjoying beautiful fish and colorful corals.

The next day, he signed up for another dive, and this is where things went wrong.

Here is a look at the experience, and the lessons we can learn from this near-disaster.

Problem 1: Language Barrier

It’s always best when you dive a new site to understand the risks inherent in the area. Is there a strong current around a corner that should be avoided? Is it a slack-tide only dive? How much experience do you have? Theroux’s divemaster apparently did not know how little diving experience the actor had, and as a result, this actor with exactly one dive under his belt ended up on a deep water dive beyond his comfort and experience level. The divemaster, assuming the details are as Theroux reported them, should have done a better job at assessing his client’s skill level too.

Problem 2: Diving Beyond Your Skill Set

There is a reason that diving comes with so many training opportunities. Different skill sets come with new risks, and require education and physical teaching that will help you to dive as safely as possible. When Theroux ended up in deeper water than he was ready for, it created a scenario where he was  unsure what to do. He lacked the training to know how to handle the problem, nor knew the proper hand signals to communicate. As signals may differ between cultures, it’s always best to calibrate signals above water to avoid confusion if a real emergency arrives.

Problem 3: Misunderstanding the Problem

As Theroux tells the story, he quickly found himself in the red zone on his oxygen tank, and tried to signal the divemaster. The instructor ignored him at first, until a friend who was also diving called the problem to his attention again. This took time, and valuable air. Depending on the level of safety stop needed, the amount of time that it took the leader to grasp that there was a problem might have been the difference between having enough air in the tank and running out completely.

“And the guy just reaches and grabs my respirator and, he has like an emergency respirator,” Theroux reportedly said. “Why are we doing an emergency when earth is right there [though]? I can see it, about 40 feet [away]. But I can’t just swim up to the top. So he pulls the respirator out, sticks it in my mouth, hits this clear button which sends all of these bubbles out and sends water down my throat. And now I’m like coughing and hacking underwater.”

Again, this is why dive education is important. In a course, you get to practice for an out-of-air situation in safe, shallow water first. If Theroux had had an opportunity to practice removing and replacing his regulator underwater, he might have been more prepared for what to expect.

Problem 4: Faulty Equipment?

Experienced divers understand that air consumption varies by the person, so it is unclear whether Theroux received a tank that was incompletely filled, leaky, or completely full. However, the emergency “respirator” that was used on him was improperly used, causing water to be forced down his throat, and making him cough. Whether the equipment was misused or malfunctioning, either way it was lucky that this was only an anecdote on national news and not much worse. This is why training and maintenance on your equipment is so important.

The Importance of Training

It’s hard to know for certain how much Theroux, a one-day diver, could have avoided with more training. A more experienced diver would likely have been more confident when they realized they were low on air, however, and insisted on going up. This alone could have changed the story. If you are trying new things or rusty in your dive, it’s always best to have a refresher course or new training to give you the confidence you need to know when something is a problem or just part of the dive experience.

Do you need a refresher course? Scuba Toys offers year-round courses where you can remember what you forgot or advance your skills! Call us at (972) 820-7667 or visit us online for more info!

Is there a diver in your life who could use more dive instruction? Consider a Scuba Toys gift certificate!

Have you had an underwater emergency? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: “Dive hand signal Emergency Out of air” by Peter Southwood – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Article Name
What Actor Justin Theroux’s Near Dive Fatality Can Teach Us
Actor Justin Theroux logged exactly one, shallow resort dive while on his honeymoon. Miscommunication and poor judgement from his divemaster almost ended his life on his next dive.

4 responses to “What Actor Justin Theroux’s Near Dive Fatality Can Teach Us”

  1. Maria says:

    What a scary and preventable ordeal. He’s very lucky that things turned out the way that they did and not any worse.

  2. T. Barnes says:

    A friend of mine had a pretty serious scare right around when I first started diving. As a result, I’ve been very cautious since I started.

  3. Marty says:

    Wow, not good! I haven’t experienced a scare, but was on a dive with someone who did. It really put things in perspective for everyone else.

  4. PlatypusMan says:

    “As Theroux tells the story, he quickly found himself in the red zone on his oxygen tank…”

    Oxygen tank?

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