Former Chicago man abandoned while snorkling

June 29, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Ian Cole, who once lived in Chicago, was exploring in the Great Barrier Reef on Saturday. He explains, when he came up to the surface, his dive boat was gone.

Cole swam to another boat for help.

The boat company denies he was ever in danger because there were other boats nearby.

Cole explains that a French backpacker -- who was not fluent in English -- was in charge of the headcount to make sure snorkelers got back on the boat.

"I was kinda surprised they gave the least experienced person -- and the person who didn't speak English fluently -- the responsibility of checking off names," Cole said.

The incident is similar to the infamous case of Tom and Eileen Lonergan of Louisiana. They died in 1998 after their tour boat left while they were scuba diving on the reef. Officials believe they drowned or were eaten by sharks.

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