Tributes to ‘lovely’ Portsmouth mum who died while diving

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  • Inquest into death of woman in Gozo
  • Coroner found it was due to a heart condition
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TAKEN too soon doing what she loved most’.

That is the heartfelt tribute to an experienced diver who died during a trip off the coast of Gozo, an island near Malta.

It could have happened at any moment

David Horsley

Petrina Matthews, from Baffins, Portsmouth, was diving when she got into difficulties and had to be pulled from the water.

But after hearing a doctor’s report at an inquest at Portsmouth Coroners’ Court, coroner David Horsley concluded that the 61-year-old’s death was because of a heart condition and could have happened anywhere.

Mr Horsley said: ‘It had nothing to do with the dive, it could have happened at any moment.

‘It could have happened while she was watching television at home.

‘I have to conclude that her death is due to natural causes.

‘It’s quite understandable that she may not have had any symptoms prior to this.’

Mrs Matthews’s daughter, Tina, paid tribute to her mum after the hearing.

Tina, 28, said: ‘She was a lovely and wonderful person who was taken too soon.

‘She died doing what she loved most, which was diving.

‘She always took any chance to go diving.’

Mrs Matthews was an experienced diver who had made about 150 dives since she took up the activity 10 years ago and was a qualified rescue diver.

At the inquest, her husband, Michael Matthews, told the coroner how they had travelled to Malta so his wife could brush up on her diving skills ahead of a trip to the Galápagos Islands, which was planned to celebrate Mrs Matthews’s birthday in June.

‘I said ‘‘you haven’t dived for a while, we will go to Malta to have a little refresher’’.’

Mr Matthews said his wife had recently had a cold, but was over the illness before she started diving.

He said: ‘If she had still had a cold she wouldn’t have dived. She liked to stick to the rules.’

The inquest heard Mrs Matthews had been diving without any problems for two days before her death.

Mr Matthews said on that morning they had woken up early and left their hotel at about 7.30am in order to get the ferry from Malta over to the neighbouring island of Gozo.

Mr Matthews said his wife was diving with a group of about a dozen others when she seemed to get into trouble and came to the surface.

He said: ‘She had been out only five minutes.

‘She had only gone down about 20m when she signalled to her companion that she wasn’t feeling all that well.

‘The instructor towed her in and started doing CPR.’

Pathologist Doctor David Cowlishaw said Mrs Matthews’ death was because of a coronary artery atheroma and myocardial fibrosis, which is a scarring of the heart because of narrowing of the blood vessels.