Boyfriend of tragic diver lucky to be alive

THE family of an Edinburgh diver who drowned in just 15 metres of water at a Highland loch today told how her new boyfriend had himself been lucky to escape alive.

Jennifer Simpson, 43, had been diving with her partner at Loch Sunart in Ardnamurchan when she failed to surface, sparking a massive search operation. A Royal Navy helicopter and more than 20 vessels scoured the area before rescue divers recovered her body four hours after she vanished.

Today, her brother John Simpson, 40, paid tribute to his sister, who was a capable diver, and revealed her boyfriend Rob was lucky to have survived the ill-fated dive last Friday.

"Rob was with her when it happened," he said.

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"He was quite lucky because he was in trouble himself at one point so it's a very hard thing for him. They have been together for the last two months or so and she was very happy. He did all he could and it's just a tragic accident."

It is still not yet known how museum worker Ms Simpson came to drown in the shallow waters but her brother stressed there were no "suspicious circumstances" and that her dive equipment was "fine".

"She was having problems ascending but there is always a danger when diving," he added.

Ms Simpson was born in Paisley and moved to the Capital as a student more than 20 years ago to study ecology at Edinburgh University. She had worked at the National Museum of Scotland as a learning and programmes manager since 2003 and lived in Montgomery Street for the last 12 years.

She was described by her brother, who lives on the Canongate, as a "creative" and "fun" person who had a "silly side".

"Her friends were really important to her," said Mr Simpson. "She would always greet people she met for the first time with a big smile and they would be smiling back at her. My sister and I were close and very supportive of each other and pretty much went snowboarding together every year. She had lots of friends in Edinburgh and was very popular."

Ms Simpson's father Gavin, 68, said he and his wife Dorothy were "managing" and was grateful for the support they have received.

He said: "She had a great life even though it has been shortened. We have to try to be strong although I want to crack up at times. I really feel sorry for her mum."

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He added that his "sunny and smiling" daughter had successfully completed several diving courses and previously travelled to explore the waters of Egypt and the Caribbean.

Ms Simpson had also been employed at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Dave Eakin, the watch officer at Clyde Coastguard which co-ordinated the search, said it was still not known exactly how the tragedy happened.

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