It was a mild morning in October when 26-year-old David Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Watson, and his wife of 11 days, Tina Watson, started the dive expedition that had been the part they were most looking forward to of their Australian honeymoon.
The couple, who had met as students at the University of Alabama, had planned a seven-day dive adventure on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. While Gabe was a highly experienced diver, with a total of 55 dives, Tina had only started diving lessons in the lead up to her honeymoon. By the time the couple entered the water on October 22, 2003, she had only ever completed 11 dives – all in a local quarry.
The first time Gabe and Tina explored the historic SS Yongala shipwreck site, which sits 48 nautical miles southeast of Townsville, they quickly returned to the surface. Gabe said his dive computer was broken, and fixed it on board their tour vessel, Spoilsport. The couple then entered the water for a second time.
What occurred next has been the subject of a five-year investigation, a coronial inquest, and two criminal trials.
Since he completed his final dive with his wife, the Herald Sun reports Gabe Watson has provided 16 different accounts of what happened.
The only clear detail is that within a few minutes, Gabe had returned safely to the surface, and Tina was alone on the ocean floor.
It was during this time that another diver, Gary Stempler, took a photo of his wife, and inadvertently captured Tina in the background.