Leading Shipwreck Researcher David Bright Dies After Andrea Doria Dive

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David Bright, a leading researcher into underwater exploration and shipwrecks, has died after diving to the site of the Andrea Doria off Nantucket, where he was working in preparation for the wreck's 50th anniversary. He was 49.

Bright, of Flemington, N.J., resurfaced from a dive late Saturday with decompression sickness and went into cardiac arrest, according to the Coast Guard. He was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital a short time later.

Bright was a historian and an experienced technical diver who had explored the Titanic, Andrea Doria and other shipwrecks many times — 120 times for the Andrea Doria.

The Andrea Doria was headed from Genoa, Italy, to New York when it collided with the Swedish ship Stockholm on July 25, 1956, killing about 50 people. The Italian luxury liner lies at the bottom of the Atlantic in 200 feet of water.

Bright had an extensive collection of artifacts and established the Andrea Doria Museum Project, which lends artifacts to museums. He was the founder of the Andrea Doria Survivor Reunions Committee.

"His passion has been growing for a little over 30 years, all kinds of shipwrecks and getting to know them," Elaine Bright, his wife of 23 years, said Monday.

"It's very traumatizing to his entire family but we know that he's happy. It's a very sad thing, but water, scuba diving was what he wanted to do," she said.

Bright started the Nautical Research Group about four years ago after his retirement from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, where he worked for 12 years as a research scientist, his wife said.

He also spent two years working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the exploration of the wreck of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.

Memorial services were planned in Flemington and in his hometown near Niagara Falls, N.Y. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother, two brothers and three children.