British father, 56, shouted ‘I can’t do it!’ before suffocating when ill-fitting full-face snorkel mask bought on Amazon restricted his breathing during diving trip in Australia, inquest hears

  • John Bazzoni died of oxygen deprivation during a snorkeling trip in Australia
  • 56-year-old had bought Gofun snorkelling mask on Amazon before 2017 holiday
  • The decorator got into difficulties as the mask fogged up and water leaked in
  • Coroner Jason Pegg said there are ‘concerns globally’ about full-face masks

A coroner today raised concerns over a snorkeling mask sold on Amazon after a British grandfather died of oxygen deprivation during a visit to family in Western Australia.

An inquest heard John Bazzoni bought a Gofun diving mask which claimed to be ‘anti-fog’ and ‘anti-leak’ online ahead of his trip to see his daughter Nicola Roman for Christmas in 2017. 

But during a snorkeling trip to Lady Nora Island with his son-in-law Sean Roman, a police officer, on New Year’s Eve, the 56-year-old, from Andover, Hampshire, got into difficulties.

Father-of-three Mr Bazzoni, a painter and decorator, was a ‘poor swimmer’ and had previously been helped from the water after panicking when water got into his snorkeling mask, an inquest at Winchester heard.

However, for this trip, Mr Bazzoni had bought a 180-degree full-face mask on Amazon as he believed this would prevent water getting in, which had previously happened with traditional masks.  

Tragically, a terrified Mr Bazzoni exclaimed ‘I can’t do it’ as water entered the decorator’s mask and it became fogged up. 

Mr Roman and his colleague Simon Harrison ‘admirably’ tried to rescue Mr Bazzoni – but the mask restricted his supply of oxygen and when he was pulled aboard a boat he was ‘foaming at the mouth’ and colourless.

A coroner today raised concerns over a snorkeling mask sold on Amazon after John Bazzoni died of oxygen deprivation during a visit to family in Western Australia

Mr Bazzoni used Amazon to buy a Gofun diving mask which claimed to be ‘anti-fog’ and ‘anti-leak’ ahead of his trip to see his daughter Nicola Roman for Christmas in 2017

But during a snorkeling trip to Lady Nora Island with his son-in-law Sean Roman, a police officer, on New Year’s Eve, the 56-year-old, from Andover, Hampshire, got into difficulties

The inquest was told Mr Bazzoni, a painter and decorator who loved travelling, had been previously been diagnosed with heart problems which contributed to his death.

Coroner Jason Pegg said there are ‘concerns globally’ that such full-face masks do not allow exhaled air to be purged through normal breathing, leading to a build-up of carbon dioxide.

Recording a verdict of death by misadventure, he said: ‘John was swimming in the sea, wearing a full face snorkelling mask, when he got into difficulties.

‘The mask restricted John’s ability to breathe by causing a build-up of carbon dioxide in the mask, as a consequence of which John developed hypoxia. His swimming ability and sea conditions at the time contributed to his death.’

He continued: ‘There are clearly causes for concern about the use of this mask, the Gofun snorkelling mask full face. 

‘As a coroner, I do have powers to make a Prevention of Future Deaths report; however, Gofun are no longer trading or selling this mask so I am unable to make a report as there is no-one I can properly write to about my concerns about using the mask.’

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Bazzoni died of hypoxia – oxygen deprivation – with a secondary cause of cardiovascular disease.  

Mr Pegg, at Winchester Coroner’s Court, Hampshire, said the mask is currently unavailable on Amazon. 

Mrs Roman told the hearing she had warned her father about the dangers of the ocean and he had replied that ‘he couldn’t think of a better way to die than snorkelling over coral in paradise’.

Father-of-three Mr Bazzoni, a painter and decorator, was a ‘poor swimmer’ and had previously been helped from the water after panicking when water got into his snorkelling mask

John Bazzoni with his three daughters Amy, Victoria and Nicola

In a statement, Mr Roman said he had jumped into the water to help Mr Bazzoni, after he began to wave for help while 20m from the boat and drifting further away.

He said: ‘John stopped snorkelling, lifted his head out of the water and raised one of his hands. I think he called ‘Sean, come here’. I didn’t like John’s voice – it was panicked.’

He said when he reached him, Mr Bazzoni grabbed hold of him, and added that he could see a cupful of water pooled in the face mask.

He said he supported him until his friend, Simon Harrison, also arrived and was able to take him back to the boat, by which time Mr Bazzoni had lost consciousness and died despite attempts to resuscitate him. 

At the inquest, which was also attended by Mr Bazzoni’s other daughters, Amy and Victoria, Mrs Roman paid tribute to their father, saying: ‘Dad had a real joy for most aspects of life, apart from work.

‘He was an adventurer, he enjoyed travelling, he loved us, myself and my sisters, and we were never in any doubt about that. He was a really fun person to be around and spend time with.’

Mr Roman tried the mask on in the days before Mr Bazzoni’s death, but said he ‘struggled to breathe’ in it. 

He said: ‘I’m a competent snorkeler but when I tried on the mask I found it unpleasant and struggled to breathe. If I wore it for 10 minutes I think I would have been dizzy and out of breath.’

Mr Roman said he ‘knew John to be a poor swimmer’ and Nicola Roman, Mr Bazzoni’s daughter, said on previous trips her husband had to help bring him back to shore. 


Coroner Jason Pegg said there are ‘concerns globally’ that such full-face masks do not allow exhaled air to be purged through normal breathing, leading to a build-up of carbon dioxide

The inquest was told Mr Bazzoni, a painter and decorator who loved travelling, had been previously been diagnosed with heart problems which contributed to his death

Mrs Roman, who lives in beach resort town Broome, said her father usually swam with a ‘pool noodle’ – a foam floatation device.

She said: ‘We had taken him snorkelling a few times. On a few occasions he panicked in the water. He was not a strong swimmer, he swam with a pool noodle.

‘Most of the time when he panicked while snorkelling was because he had a moustache – it meant that water got in the mask.

‘We had a spa outside [their home] and we tested the new mask in there, Sean didn’t like it.’

Mrs Roman also paid tribute to her dad. She said: ‘Dad was fun-loving, he had a real joy for most aspects of life. He was an adventurer, he was a real fun person to be around and spend time with.’

Previously, Mrs Roman, a mother-of-one, said: ‘He really like to be outside, he really liked nature, he had never really seen much before being out of the UK but then he swam with whale sharks, with turtles; he did all sorts.

‘He loved Australia; his house became a tribute to Australia with new bits such as kangaroo skin whenever he came back.’

Daughter Victoria Dixon, who lives in England, said: ‘Victoria said: ‘He always used to say that he was ‘just a decorator’ and play himself down a lot but he should be remembered as someone who was an adventurer and curious about the world.

‘He had so many other interests; he couldn’t just be defined by his job, he was a very intelligent man.’

Amy Bazzoni said: ‘We knew if Dad was around, nothing was ever going to get too serious as he was fun. He was always the first one running up to the zipwire in the park.

‘He was definitely a child at heart. He was going to make such an amazing granddad and for us we were really lucky he was our dad.’

Mr Bazzoni had his own business named JR Bazzoni Decorators for around 25 years before shutting up shop in the early 2000s to work with other companies.  

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