Human error thought to be cause of model’s death in underwater photo shoot

nasa coral reef climate change lush tropical shore and corals underwater
An underwater photo shoot that went terribly wrong has claimed the life of popular model in Taiwan. According to, 25-year-old Olivia Ku, a native of Taipei, died after suffering what appears to be an asthma attack. While the official cause of death has not been released, it’s reported that officials suspect human error to be a contributing factor.

It is still unclear exactly what happened, but it appears that at some point during the shoot, Ku was asked by the photographer to remove her breathing apparatus and hold her breath for some shots. The current theory is that this triggered an asthma attack which Ku was unable to recover from, resulting in her death. Ku’s modeling agency, Eelin Entertainment, has come under fire for not making sure adequate safety measures were in place, but the agency stated that Ku had not booked the work through them and expressed their condolences to Ku’s family. According to AsiaOne, there are conflicting reports, including the water depth she was swimming in.

Olivia Ku
Olivia Ku Eelin Entertainment

This was not a case of an inexperienced diver getting in over their head either, Ku was an amateur diver with over 3 years of diving experience. She is reported to have volunteered to dive in those waters to help pick up trash from the seabed in the past. The whole situation underscores the need for safety when participating in and producing photo shoots in potentially dangerous situations.

Photographers should always take the safety and well-being of his or her clients and crew into account when planning a shoot. For models and crew members, always make it a point to ask about the safety precautions that are in place, especially if the photo shoot involves dangerous conditions. If whoever is planning the shoot can not, or will not, tell you what they are, then do not participate. No shoot is worth risking your life.

In spite of tragedy, hopefully this story can serve as a grim reminder of the need for adequate safety measures at photo shoots, and help save a life down the line.


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