Saturday, June 25, 2022

Mystery surrounding ‘forgotten’ couple abandoned in shark-infested waters after ‘death wish’

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Tom and Eileen Longergan made headlines after their tour boat forgot them after a diving trip in Queensland, Australia, as the pair were never found, but many suspect they were mauled by tiger sharks

An adventurous couple abandoned in shark-infested waters have seemingly predicted their fate in a chilling journal entry.

Tom and Eileen Longergan were last seen scuba diving 24 years ago and to this day no one knows if they were eaten alive or drowned while on a tour of the Great Barrier Reef.

Prior to her trip, Eileen had written that her husband had a “death wish” that later sparked accusations of “homicide-suicide.”

The American couple arrived in Port Douglas in northern Australia and spent about an hour exploring beneath the surface.

But after poking their heads out of the water, they realized the rest of the divers had disappeared along with their Outer Edge boat in January 1998.

Although the boat returned to Port Douglas, it was two days before anyone realized the longergans had been left behind.

Abandoned about 40 miles off the Queensland coast, they met a deadly fate that later became a box office hit called Open Water.

The couple, who tied the knot while studying at university, had fallen in love with each other’s passions, inspiring Tom to enjoy scuba diving as much as Eileen.

Eileen had known her partner for 10 years and was aware of the scary thoughts Tom used to have.

Two weeks before the Great Barrier Reef dive, the 28-year-old wrote: “He hopes to die a quick and painless death and he hopes it happens soon.

“Tom isn’t suicidal, but he has a death wish that could lead him to what he wants, and I could get caught up in it.”

And while there were signs pointing to a drowning incident, it was difficult to ignore the frequent sightings of the beasts spotted off the Queensland coast.

Both police and the Australian Navy launched a frantic search for the couple but all that was found was their dive bag, wallet and papers belonging to Jack Nairn, the owner of Skipper and the Outer Edge.

Months later, a wetsuit Eileen’s size was discovered with no blood on it, as were the couple’s inflatable diving jackets.

However, six months after her devastating trip, a diver’s list from the day of her disappearance had surfaced.

The registered message read: “To all [who] can help us: We were suspended on A[gin]Court Reef by MV Outer Edge Jan 25 ’98 3pm.

“Please help us [come] to save us before we die. Help!!!”

The panel further suggested the shark attack was unlikely, and Outer Edge’s attorneys suggested the pair disappeared on purpose.

Lawyers used the leaked diary entry to suggest a suicide or even murder-suicide may have taken place, but the Lonergan’s family blasted it as libelous and the claims were eventually dismissed.

The Outer Edge was held accountable and Nairn pleaded guilty to negligence.

Coroner Noel Nunan said in his closing remarks: “The skipper should be mindful of passenger safety and ensure security measures are implemented.

“When you combine the number of errors and the severity of the errors, I am satisfied that a reasonable jury would find Mr Nairn guilty of manslaughter on criminal evidence.”

The jury found Nairn not guilty, but his Outer Edge Boat Company went bust.

The horror ordeal inspired the 2003 film Open Water, which documented a young couple left to die.

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