P.E.I. man who died during scuba diving excursion 'one of a kind'

·2 min read

Derek Bell, a 49-year-old man from Montague, P.E.I., who died of a heart attack while scuba diving off South Korea on Saturday, is being remembered as an outgoing person with a "huge, booming laugh" who liked to travel and experience different cultures.

"If there were 100 people in a room, in five minutes he would know them all," said his father, Scott Bell.

"He was just one of a kind. Just a personable guy, always a smile on his face and cracking jokes all the time."

Derek grew up in Montague before moving to Seoul to teach at a university and get his master's degree. He was the only child of Scott and Brenda Bell.

"It's kind of hard because parents aren't supposed to outlive their children," Scott said.

Emailed on Friday

They had last heard from their son on Friday, when he emailed to say he was going on a scuba diving excursion on Jeju, an island about 100 kilometres south of the mainland. They last spoke to him over the phone on Tuesday, and last saw him in person in February.

They got word of his death on Saturday. They were told he had just resurfaced from scuba diving and was sitting on the diver's platform when he suffered a heart attack and fell back into the water. CPR was unsuccessful.

He was a good son. We touched base pretty much every week. — Scott Bell

Scott said Derek usually came home to P.E.I. twice a year, once in the winter and once in summer. He didn't come this summer because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"He was a good son. We touched base pretty much every week."

Derek leaves behind his partner of 15 years, whom he met in South Korea.

Scott said Derek had travelled all over Southeast Asia, exploring the different cultures and history.

"He loved to go to those places.… He lived a full life."

Wrestled as Captain Canada

Scott said he had many friends in South Korea. Along with being an avid scuba diver, he played ball hockey and wrestled under the names Captain Canada and Professor Derek.

His friends raised money to send his body home. It is scheduled to be on a flight to Toronto on Sunday.

Bell said the funeral will be on P.E.I. likely sometime next week.

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