It does sound like a bit of Empire Building there Poly. Mind you, it's a press report, so you have to take it with a pinch of seasalt. It's aMazdaing how inaccuracies can sometoms creep into copy.
Still, if you surface unconscious after a dive, you want to be heading directly to hospital, not just shorewards. A helo is the best option in this case, IMO. There is no-one on a diveboat able to call a death by drowning, so all parties will have had to proceed as though there was a chance of recovery.
As for the buddy, if there is any question of decompression sickness, they get treated the same way as the vic. In this case they went with the Lifeboat so it was probably just to get them out of the way. Any time one of my clients has died on site, I've always had more difficulty with their associates. The emergency services can be quite understanding and take them away too