Scuba Diving Gone Wrong or Murder?
Tina Watson was a 26-year-old American woman from Helena, Alabama, who died while scuba diving during her honeymoon with Gabe Watson in Queensland, Australia, on 22 October 2003.
Tina Watson was born in West Germany on 13 February 1977 and put up for adoption. On 24 January 1980, she was legally adopted by Tommy and Cindy Thomas. Her adopted parents also have a younger daughter. Tina and her younger sister were raised in Birmingham, Alabama. As a child, Tina was diagnosed with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. PSVT is an abnormally fast heart rhythm that causes palpitations, lightheadedness, sweating, and shortness of breath. The medicines weren’t helping Tina much. At the age of 24, Tina had minor surgery for PSVT. Her family described her bright, happy, and just light everyone up. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham and that’s where she met David Gabriel Watson. Before Gabe, she was engaged to someone else but called off the engagement due to her mother’s disapproval. Tina and Gabe began dating in January 2001.
David Gabriel Watson was named after his father. His friends and father describe him as a nice guy, friendly, and he could get along with anyone. Gabriel starts asking Tina out as soon he met her. He was interested in her but at the time she was engaged and pushed Gabe aside but he didn’t give up. Tina and Gabe attended the same New Year’s Eve party and it was where Gabe asked Tina out again at this time she had called off her previous engagement so she said yes. They both graduated from the University of Alabama.
SCUBA DIVE LESSONS
After University Gabe starts working in his father’s company and Tina starts working as a manager in a clothing store. Gabe loves Scuba diving, It was his passion and on top of that, he was a purportedly qualified certified rescue diver. He used to scuba dive very often while Tina wasn’t the big fan. In January 2003 Tina began to take diving lessons so she could enjoy what Gabe enjoys. Tina’s parents were worried because of her PSVT. Tina’s father went to Gabe about this while Gabe completely brushes him off by saying he does things that tina love.
In February 2003 Gabriel asks Tina’s dad for the blessing of her daughter. Tina’s father was hesitant but he appreciated that Gabe asked. He never literally gave him permission it was just he asked and then got married. Gabe was used to taunting Tina with the wedding ring that he won’t purpose but according to Gabe, he was waiting for the right moment. On 20th April 2003, Gabe hid the ring in an easter egg while there were playing easter egg hunt around the house. When tina reached to the egg with the purposed her. Tina’s parents weren't very that thrilled. They thought that Gabe just does what he wanted to do there wasn’t much communication between the couple it was just all about Gabe.
On September 26, 2003, Tina went to see her father and ask him to increase the life insurance and add Gabe as sole beneficiary. Tina’s father didn’t understand the rush so he brushed it off until they came back from their honeymoon.
WEDDING AND HONEYMOON
On October 11, 2003, Tina and Gabe got married. Their honeymoon eas set day after their wedding they would be going to Australia for two weeks. In the first week they would be in Sydney and the second week they travel to Townsville, Queensland. In Townsville, they would board a cruise and perform 25 scuba dives visiting the reef sites. The ship they were on called spoilsport. At the time Gabe had done 55 dives while Tina had done only 5. She was less experienced than him but Gabe was a certified rescue diver so Tina felt safe. The couple was ready for harder dive but Gabe refused to take the professional diver with them. He tells him that he’s is a certified diver we don’t need your help. As they were waiting for their dive Gabe was having problems with his dive computer which made Tina a little uncomfortable.
THE SCUBA DIVE
So It’s October 22, 2003, the dive was considered fairly difficult due to the dept of the dive and the current of the ocean. There were few people on the boat to help if anything goes wrong. Before the dive, Gabe asked for the additional weight for Tina. In this opinion, she won’t be able to descent to the boat without the weight. After Tina got her weight they dive and within a few minutes of them being underwater Gabe says that Tina began acting concerned trying to signal to him that something is wrong. Gabe said that Tina accidentally knocked his breathing mask off of his face and then he started to panic. He got distracted fixing his mask but after he fixes it he looks over Tina and notices that Tina was sinking. Instead of helping her he swims up to the surface and goes to the boat and gets help While There was an underwater instructor Wade who saw Tina sinking he grabs her and takes up to the surface. The instructor took to another board named Jaz II and gives her CPR for over 30 minutes. When peopled asked Gabe why didn’t you bring her up his reason was that he never learned how to bring someone back to the surface. Gabe swims back to the original board and doesn’t even ask where Tina is or if she is okay. The people on the board find it weird and said that Gabe was acting strangely and he was going around asking everyone for hugs. The shipmates said that he wasn’t even upset.
Once the help arrives and the took Tina to the hospital the doctors said that it was weird that there was very little water in her lungs. They found this odd because she should have a lot more water in her lungs. Wade finds it weird that Tina sinks in the first place. Scuba divers, unless you are weighted, were naturally buoyant they don’t just sink. When Wade swam to save Tina he noticed that she had all her weights on and he had to drop her weight belt to get her to the surface faster and later on in the investigation they discovered that Tina was wearing 20 pounds of weight when she would have only needed to 8 pounds of weight. Sadly Tina couldn’t be saved and passed away.
Several people saw Gabe giving Tina a “bear hug” underwater while Tina was struggling. When police talk to Gabe his story every time changes. Nothing was making sense that how Tina sank. Gabe called his parents and told them about the situation but he didn’t want to talk to Tina’s parents. He asked his family to tell Tina’s parents. The initial ruling by the coroner stated that Tina’s death was an accident. But Tina’s dad didn’t believe it. Five days after Tina’s death Gabe and Tina’s body was flown back to the United States.
FUNERAL AND AFTERMATH
The funeral happened shortly after. Gabe and Tina’s friends and family were there and according to a lot of people, Gabe was acting just inappropriate. Standing in front of the open casket Gabe turns to his friend and says “at least her breast look perky”. Later that year Gabe sent Tina’s family a Christmas card he included a picture of him and Tina at the wedding and quote “Who is that sexy guy next to Tina? Oh yeah that’s me”. After everything settles down Gabe tried to file the payout on the travel company for the interrupted trip but the insurance company tells Gabe that the injury during scuba dive wasn’t covered by insurance and either was entitled to Tina’s life insurance.
While Tina’s father Tommy didn’t believe a single word of that story. He felt like he has to dig a little bit deeper. A few members from Spoilsport Ship reached out to Tommy for helping him get the answers about her daughter. After talking one man from the ship and learning that Gabe hadn’t gone on the ship where Tina was being resuscitated. Tommy decides to fly to Australia and investigate himself. The first person Tommy speak within Australia is the diver that brought Tina back. After talking to the police and looking the case closely Tonsvillie police agreed that there was reasonable evidence of foul play. They decided in July of 2004 the case was listed now as a criminal case, not as an accident. The police noted several inconsistencies with Gabe’s story and evidence and Tina’s body was not where Gabe said it was. Gabe also said on the way to the surface he encountered two divers and tried to tell them to help Tina. But police found no evidence of these two divers Gabe spoke to. Two divers were watching from afar but they said that there was no one around Gabe and Tina. Gabe also said that he rocketed to the surface to help Tina but his drive computer proven otherwise that he took his time to reach the surface. Now Tina’s dive computer showed that she resurfaced a couple of times throughout their scuba dive very quickly which made them that she was going up because she was panicking. This provides evidence that Tina was very uncomfortable with diving and she should have extra help. Her scuba teacher later confirms this in court that she wasn’t an experienced diver. Again there was a very little amount of water found in Tina’s lungs and it was believed that she passed out during the dive and her mouth must have relaxed off the mouthpiece which allows a small amount of water into her mouth. They suspected that Gabe had turned her air off until she was unconscious and turned back on before he left her. It was believed that when the eyewitnesses saw Gabe giving Tina a “bear hug” he must have turn off her oxygen that’s the reason she was struggling. This was dispute by dive experts that this would have been nearly impossible that Tina would be able to reach the surface before her air ran out. After interviewing several scuba diving experts police found that Gabe had experience with bringing people to the surface. Then the police investigate the company Tina and Gabe dived with. The company labeled each diver according to their skills and amount of dives they had performed. Only 15 of Gabes dives were ocean dives but he didn’t note that on the form that why the company thought that Gabe was way more experienced with these types of dives then he was. They thought that because Gabe has said over and over again that he is a certified diver. If the company had followed the protocol then Gabe and Tina would have a trained diver with them to make sure they are safe. But Gabe lied and he didn’t also tell the company about Tina’s panic while underwater and completely left that part out.
Tommy also said that every time he visits Tina’s grave the flowers that he left would mysteriously disappear. He believed that someone was stealing them. Gabe also wanted to exhume Tina’s body and moved it to a plot that he had owned Sadly when he moved Tina’s grave he never got a headstone for it and left it unmarked for three years. Tommy found out where Gabe had moved Tina’s body and left flowers for her and the next day the flowers would disappear again. Tommy would say that sometimes hours later the flowers would disappear. So went to the police and explain the situation. The police ended up setting a camera near the grave to see who’s the culprit. Finally, they caught Gabe on the footage stealing the flowers. Gabe’s excuse for it was that Tina didn’t like plastic flowers. In the meantime, Gabe starts dating Kim whom he ends up marrying in August of 2008. The authorities of Australia ended up flying to Alabama to research into the case further. The police found a lot of dirt on Gabe, he wasn’t the husband he was showing everyone he was. Authorities also found that Tina and Gabe broke up shortly before their engagement because they were bickering a lot and Tina was just ready to move on. During their break, Tina was set up on a date apparently Gabe found out about this and he was livid. He started to call her names and harass her. But eventually, they got back together and Gabe purposed Tina. Police thought that life insurance payout could have been his motive.
TRIAL IN AUSTRAILA
In May of 2009, Gabe finally sent back to Australia to stand trial. He agreed to go after making a deal they would drop the case from murder to manslaughter. At his trial, he was convicted of manslaughter and given a sentence of 4 and a half years but the judge ending up suspending it to 12 months. Alabama Attorney general appealed the sentence because he thought it was way too lenient and the appeal was approved and it was expanded to 18 months. Alabama Attorney general brin the case back to the United State and they wanted the case tried again in Alabama. Alabama Attorney general said that there was additional evidence that hadn’t been seen in the Australia court case.
TRIAL IN UNITED STATES (ALABAMA)
Australia would not allow any evidence that was found in Australia to return to America without a promise that Alabama would not seek the death penalty. Alabama agreed and Gabe was returned to the United State and put into police custody ready for tried again in Alabama. Attorney general indicated two counts one was capital murder and the other was kidnapping with tricky. Attorney-General said that Gabe tricked Tina into taking dive lessons and going to Australia. During this time Alabama courts removed Gabe as the administrator of Tina’s estate and they ended up granting it to Tina’s father. Tommy asked Gabe for Tina’s personal belongings but Gabe didn’t return it. The trail officially went to court on February 13, 2012, Which was Tina’s 35th birthday. For some reason, in Alamba they weren’t allowed to mention the evidence of Gabe’s weird behavior and weren’t allowed to raise the life insurance claim. Without all this evidence the Judge decided there wasn’t much evidence to convict Gabe of murder and he was acquitted of all charges. Gabe said he’s at peace with it now and wants to rebuild his life. Tina’s family didn't get any closure.
Did Tina Watson get justice?
Did Gabe Watson get the punishment he deserved?
The questions remain silent and unanswered.