Update: 2 divers rescued at Seacrest, taken to hospital

(cameraphone photo from the scene)
ORIGINAL 12:53 PM REPORT: Checking out the water-rescue callout at Seacrest. Reports suggest there may be a diver in trouble. Avoid the area – as we arrive, we see a huge response of emergency vehicles (and media too). Details as soon as we get them.

(photo added 2 pm)
1:02 PM UPDATE: We’ve just learned at the scene that two divers have been rescued. One is in an aid car right now, another one is sitting up and being treated at the scene. We don’t know anything more about their condition or the circumstances of the rescue.

(photo added 2 pm)
1:12 PM UPDATE: All units are being cleared from the call except the two medic units (we’re told both divers will be taken to the hospital) and one engine, so traffic flow will be closer to normal shortly. There’s also a public-information officer at the scene so we should have more information soon on what happened. We do know both divers are men, and were diving just off the Seacrest pier.

1:36 PM UPDATE: Here’s what Fire Department spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen just told media at the scene: The two men, ages 35 and 39, were between 40 and 60 feet down, when they decided to make a “rapid ascent” – it’s not known yet why. A small private boat rescued the 39-year-old, who was in good enough condition to walk into the medic unit under his own power; the Coast Guard got the 35-year-old out of the water. Both are being taken to Harborview Medical Center, but Vander Houwen says neither has “life-threatening injuries.”

24 Replies to "Update: 2 divers rescued at Seacrest, taken to hospital"

  • WSratsinacage April 3, 2009 (1:48 pm)

    Seems like there are incidents here every month. I’m not trying to blame the victim but it does seem like a dangerous place to dive. Godspeed to the injured divers.

  • Graysongirl April 3, 2009 (1:59 pm)

    I am interested to know from professionals if the frequency of incidents in this location specifically is due to the conditions there in particular? We don’t seem to hear, for example, of incidents off of Alki point. For example, are there more challenging dive areas like there are more challenging ski areas?

  • JLB April 3, 2009 (2:01 pm)

    It’s not the location, it’s the divers themselves. Seacrest Marina is a popular place for diving lessons, instruction, practice… It’s not that they are encountering underwater obstacles or hazards, but it is the “new diver” mistakes, and “common” emergencies that seem to be occuring more frequently.

  • Seattle_diver April 3, 2009 (2:12 pm)

    The reason this area has the most incidents is not because it is more dangerous. In fact, it’s probably one of the safest places to dive in the area. This location is by far the most popular site around. Saying there are more incidents here is like saying there are more accidents on I-5 than the street in front of your house. There are more incidents, but the reason is due to the large number of divers using the site.

  • Jiggers April 3, 2009 (2:37 pm)

    I already asked this ? on this blog last month about this.

  • Chris Andersen April 3, 2009 (2:51 pm)

    Speaking as someone who was down there when the 911 call went out, to the moment they put the diver in the aid car, I have a couple comments.
    I heard a few rants that the response was excessive and costly. And while I can attest that the response was considerable. Multiple aid, fire and police trucks and my personal favorite, the Leschi (the latest and greatest of Seattle’s fire boats. It’s cool.) as well as the Coast Guard. I disagree that it was excessive. What if it was you or a loved one. I think you would want Seattle’s aid and rescue organizations to use everything at their disposal to effect a successful rescue and proper medical attention.
    I hope both divers are fine.

  • scottsax April 3, 2009 (3:00 pm)

    “Cove 2” is an easy dive; consequently, it’s popular with instructors and new divers.

    I do hope everyone’s OK. I’m glad to hear their injuries aren’t life-threatening.

  • JJ April 3, 2009 (3:02 pm)

    That spot is like the Bermuda Triangle for divers.

  • KT April 3, 2009 (3:56 pm)

    What the heck kind of instruction and supervision are these new divers getting? Seems like it is costing the city a lot of money for these big responses.

  • CandrewB April 3, 2009 (4:26 pm)

    I was thinking that the last time…

  • anna April 3, 2009 (9:38 pm)

    I happened to be at Seacrest when this happened today, they were saying that one of the divers had a heart attack.

  • lamont April 4, 2009 (12:14 am)

    I am interested to know from professionals if the frequency of incidents in this location specifically is due to the conditions there in particular? We don’t seem to hear, for example, of incidents off of Alki point. For example, are there more challenging dive areas like there are more challenging ski areas?

    Alki point is a more advanced dive site since there can be currents there. There’s a dive site on the north end of Alki point call the “alki junkyard” and off the south end called “alki pipeline”. Since the currents in puget sound go by alki point those sites can have more current, and they generally have less to look at so they’re not as popular and divers need to pay more attention to tide tables in order to dive them. Seacrest is largely protected from currents in Elliot Bay and you can dive it anytime. Alki point itself by the lighthouse is an extremely advanced dive — the currents there get pinched and if you time it slightly off they’ll be ripping at nearly 2 knots and pulling you down at out into the bay. Not a dive that should be done swimming (0.5 knots) without a scooter.

    Accidents at Seacrest are typically like accidents on the bunny slope from people who don’t know how to ski (only underwater, where drowning complicates the problem).

    The guy who died there about a month ago died of a heart attack. Similar to the same kind of incident on a golf course. Diving up here involves a bit of cardiovascular stress due to the heavy exposure protection you have to wear.

  • Bill April 4, 2009 (6:58 am)

    Sorry lamont but I don’t hear about emergency vehicles being sent to WS golf course every month. Diving is a recreational choice, not a right. How many people need to die here before we shut down this place?

  • seaphilia April 4, 2009 (8:49 am)

    Looking back over the West Seattle blog I noticed at least 3 serious auto accidents in the last couple of weeks. West Seattle must be a dangerous place to drive, we should shut the roads down.

    Diving incidents get a lot of attention because they are RARE and people have water phobia. I am much less likely to have a scuba incident then a car incident on the way to and from the dive site.


  • chogless April 4, 2009 (9:52 am)

    Bill, dead these divers die?
    You don’t hear about dead golfers because it is bad for business. The golfing channel would not appreciate the bad publicity. Nobody wants to hear about an out of shape golfer having a heart attack. Now Scuba Diving, that is mysterious, unknown, adventurous, that is news worthy. Diving is mysterious to those that do not dive so we make the news.
    Was the response excessive? I don’t think so. I bet the boaters called for help on the radio and the Coast Guard did their job and responded. The Seattle Fire department has a Fire boat that I am sure was monitoring the distress channel as well. Hate to have the Fire boat not respond because it costs too much. Somebody on shore probably called 911. Guess what, the Fire Department sent a land response(Paramedics and engine)probably because it came in as a rescue. Hate to have the Fire Department prioritize response based on costs vs returns. Condo or house? Condo has more people to bill, guess the house burns. I say Thank You Fire Department for responding and NOT thinking this way.
    We are one of the few recreations that is so gear intensive. The scuba diving industry is constantly running articles and enforcing the importance of staying in shape for diving. At this time there are no mandated physical fitness requirements for diving or golfing, or any other recreation or sporting activity.
    Check out the numbers for injuries and lost work days for Softball, Basketball, Golf, Snow shoveling, Snow skiing. Snow skiing has it’s on medical and response services onsite during operating hours. If it is that dangerous to require that kind of support why are you not calling for the closing of Snoqualmie Snow Skiing?

  • Bassman April 5, 2009 (12:22 am)

    I think this Blog should be shut down!
    If your curious about diving, go check out http://www.nwdiveclub.com and ask your questions there.
    Caution: you will probably have the overwhelming desire to become a diver, if you spend too much time reading the post on the nwdiveclub.

  • Bill April 5, 2009 (7:23 am)


    If you don’t like WS Blog, start your own dive blog and you can have everyone tell you what you want to hear. In the mean time, the WS Blog is here to stay and it ROCKS!!

  • Bill April 5, 2009 (7:31 am)


    You are proving my point when you bring up Snoqualmie Pass. Thousands of people a day go up there during the peak season. From time to time you hear of a sad story about a kid going to extreme and getting hurt or sadly worse. This “beginner” dive spot has a few dozen a week and as you can read from other people who’ve posted besides me, there is at least 1 “incident” here a month. Maybe dive certification shouldn’t be done at a swimming pool at the Y. One other thing should be pointed out. There are some seriously obese people squeezing into wetsuits and flopping in the water down there. These people can’t jog a 1/4 mile but they think they can swim around down there in the cold with gear on their back? Go ahead and live in your bubble, just remember me next month when there are 5 fire trucks, the coast guard boat and chopper down there. Enjoy.

  • SeaPhilia April 5, 2009 (10:15 am)

    Sport % Incidents per Participant
    Bicycling 78.8%
    Roller skating 39.9%
    Tennis 20.4%
    Fishing 16.8%
    Golf 15.8%
    Swimming 15.4%
    Water skiing 13.3%
    Scuba 9.4%

    Occurrence of Sports Injuries for 1996 Sport Number of Participants Reported Injuries
    Incidence Index
    Source: Accident Facts, 1998 Edition (detailing 1996 data), National Safety Council.
    Figures include those who participate more than one time per year, except swimming, which included those who participate more than six times per year. Injuries include only those treated in hospital emergency rooms. Golf injuries do not include injuries involving golf carts. Scuba figures based on industry estimated average number of active divers, and number of fatal and nonfatal accidents reported in 1996. All data represent the United States and its territories only

    I found these stats after a quick search of the net.

    PS. I like the West Seattle blog.


  • WSB April 5, 2009 (10:50 am)

    Sea, thanks for the research.
    That brings to mind an interesting point – the fact that much of the diving done in West Seattle is concentrated at Seacrest, so that’s where the emergency calls (which, honestly, I can tell you as the news organization that covers them all, are not frequent – not weekly or even monthly) go.
    If any other local sport were concentrated in just one place, then you’d get a more comparable picture of calls.
    Our back-end search is probably the most accurate gauge for the past couple years, since we have been intensively focused on West Seattle news – we report these incidents specifically mentioning Seacrest, while the citywide media runs over and tends to get confused, calling them “Alki,” perhaps confused by “Alki Cove.”
    Prior to this one, there was the incident a month ago in which the diver who died was stricken by a pre-existing (but undiagnosed) medical condition.
    Before that, there was a death last November
    before that, one in January 2008
    before that, one in July 2007
    which is the same month a diver died after an incident near Alki Point
    also, we briefly mentioned a Beach Drive rescue callout for divers in December 2007
    Just noting, for context’s sake … TR (not a diver fwiw)

  • lamont April 5, 2009 (11:08 am)

    Bill –

    I’ll agree with you that dive training should be better. At least half the incidents at Alki seem to be related to newer divers who simply run out of gas, that problem could be addressed with better training in OW. Many divers have commented on that, many of us participate on the various scuba forums to try to educate other divers.

    You are completely incorrect that dive training only takes place in a pool. The pool is used first, but checkout dives have to occur in open water, and Alki/Seacrest is popular for that (it is where I did my checkout dives). Since Seacrest is where divers often do their checkout dives it is often a dive site that they come back to as newer divers.

    I’ll also agree with you that there are divers out there who are unfit, but we are a country of unfit people. That isn’t a diving problem.

    Banning diving at Seacrest park isn’t going to solve any of these problems, it is just going to push it around elsewhere. And Seacrest is actually a good dive site for newer divers to meet more experienced divers and to get some mentoring.

  • lamont April 5, 2009 (11:26 am)

    According to the king county EMS annual report for 2008 there were 51,151 ALS responses and 172,502 BLS responses for King county for that year. All the dive accidents in all of puget sound wouldn’t make a dent in those statistics.

  • lamont April 5, 2009 (1:21 pm)

    not sure if my last post is going to show up or not, but every time i try to repost it, the blog complains that i’m submitting a duplicate post…

    however, in addition to the west seattle golf course, here’s EMS callouts for aid or medical issues for jefferson park golf course:

    2008: 3
    2007: 3 (plus an assault with weapons callout)
    2006: 6
    2005: 5
    2004: 3

  • james April 17, 2009 (10:44 am)

    both divers are Perfectly ok the one who took the most damage is actually an experienced diver with over 300 safe dives, and incidentally is the one responsible for getting both of them to the surface as safely as possible, the other diver panicked for no apparent reason, which is inexcuseable, but unfortunately you cannot train a person to not panic. i just thought someone should speak up for the one who essentially saved both of their lives, for those of you who weren’t there maybe you should take a step back before you speculate.

Sorry, comment time is over.