Tom And Eileen Lonergan

Tom and Eileen Lonergan left their hostel in Cairns, Australia, on January 25, 1998, and went to Port Douglas, which is in the far north of Queensland. The two were big fans of scuba diving. They had worked for the Peace Corps for three years and decided to take a vacation in Queensland before going back to their home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The couple and 24 other people got on Geoffrey Nairn’s boat, the Outer Edge, and headed northeast to St. Crispin’s Reef. The Lonergans told Katherine Traverso while they were on the Outer Edge that they were going to “go off and do their own thing.”

Tom And Eileen were not on board

Around 2:30 pm, the boat stopped at the reef’s tip. Everyone said it was a beautiful day, and everyone dove and had a good time. After about 40 to 60 minutes, everyone got on the boat, and Nairn counted 26 people. However, Tom and Eileen were not on the Outer Edge.
When the boat got back to Port Douglas, all 24 divers left. Still, the Lonergans’ two bags were still on the boat. One was a plastic bag with dry clothes and glasses in it, and the other was an empty dive bag. Staff on the Outer Edge didn’t notice that two tanks and weight belts were skipping.

January 1998

When the Outer Edge went back to St. Crispin’s Reef on January 26, 1998, divers found two weight belts that might have belonged to the Lonergans. The people who worked on the boat didn’t believe a word of this.

In the end, on Tuesday, January 27, 1998, Geoffrey Nairn found the Lonergan’s bags with their passports and other personal items among the boat’s lost and found items. Nairn went to Cairns and found the couple at the Gone Walkabout Hostel. The two people had not returned. Divers have been left behind before, but most of the time it is assumed that they are skipping in a short amount of time. At least, it will be a long time before they can drift too far away. Tom and Eileen were in trouble because it took almost 51 hours between when the boat left without them and when the police were called.

By January 27, 1998, an investigation performed by both air and land started and lasted all of five days with no evidence of the couple being discovered.

In the end, on February 5, 1998, Tom Lonergan’s buoyancy control device, or BCD, was found washed up near Indian Head, more than 100 km north of Port Douglas. Here is where things start to get a little bit confusing.

At some point, Eileen’s wetsuit, a second BCD (thought to be hers), and a single fin were found. Several sources say that Eileen’s wetsuit had cracks in the buttocks that looked like shark bites. Other reports say that all of the Lonergans’ scuba diving equipment that was found was in great shape.

Six months had passed with no sign of the couple until a dive slate was found. A dive slate is like a whiteboard, but it can be written on underwater and is a great way to talk while driving. The dive slate was found either near Indian Head, where the rest of the diving gear was found, or 160 km from where the couple went missing in the first place. Again, there are different stories about what the dive slate said. Despite this, I can say that the dive slate at least said:

This is the final anyone would discover of Tom and Eileen Lonergan.

As 1998 went on, though, creepy things started to happen to the couple, which led to more possibilities about what would happen to them. Tom and Eileen both kept private journals, which were found with their other belongings in the hostel. The journals were getting more and more scary as time went on.

Tom wrote in his journal six months before he went missing, “Like a student who has finished an exam, I think my life is perfect and I am ready to die. From what I can see, my life can only get worse from here on out. It has reached its highest point, and now it’s all downhill until my funeral.”

Just a few weeks before the couple’s last dive at St. Crispin’s Reef, Eileen wrote, “Tom wants to die quickly and clearly. Tom is not suicidal, but he has a death wish that could lead him to do what he wants, and I could get caught up in that.”


Both of them wrote in their journals about how much they hated their jobs. Because of these things, it’s possible that the Lonergans faked their own deaths instead of dying in a terrible accident or made some kind of suicide pact. So, not being counted in the headcount would have been a huge help to their plan. But would their plan have worked even if the staff on the Outer Edge had caught a glimpse?

An investigation was started, and on October 10, 1998, Coroner Noel Nunan found that the couple died either from being exposed to the elements, drowning, or being attacked by a shark. Geoffrey Nairn was also set up by Nunan to be tried for manslaughter. On November 8, 1999, Geoffrey Nairn’s trial began. His lawyer pushed hard for the murder-suicide theory, which could be why it is so common now. In the end, a jury found Nairn not guilty, but he still had to pay $28,000 for negligence. A few months later, Outer Edge went out of business.


Even though I think the Lonergans died because they were found out, the idea that they tricked themselves into dying is very interesting. In the months after they were last seen, dozens of people said they saw them.

A woman who worked in a bookstore in Port Douglas said that the couple came in and bought maps and postcards two days after they “disappeared.” As well as the fact that the couple was seen in a hotel in Darwin, which is almost 3,000 km from Port Douglas.

The strangest thing might have been a phone call made to Outer Edge the night before the Lonergans disappeared. The operations manager got the call. Tom Lonergan asked if the boat would be taking a tour of Agincourt Reef when he heard his answer. The manager said it would, and Lonergan’s worry grew as he asked the same question over and over again. A worker at the Cairns Visitors Information Centre confirmed that Lonergan also called her at the same time. Lonergan also asked if the Quicksilver V, a charter boat, went to Agincourt Reef.


The closest lifebuoy was found at Agincourt Reef, which is more than six kilometers away from where the couple’s dive began at St. Crispin’s Reef. When the dive was over, 24 people got on the Outer Edge and headed back to Port Douglas. Later that day, a fishing boat quickly left the area where the dive took place.

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