Update: Body located in area where diver vanished

(EVENING COVERAGE can be found here)
11:18 AM: There’s a big response at Seacrest – a diver’s reported to be in trouble. Rescue crews are working from land and in the water. Lots of police as well as fire, so avoid the area TFN. We’re on the way; more to come.

(Photos by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)
11:27 AM UPDATE: According to the scanner, the diver was at one point coming up with “a buddy” but then went back down again. There’s an extensive search effort under way.

11:39 AM UPDATE: Still searching for the diver who’s reported to be in trouble. Police are expanding the stretch of Harbor that’s being blocked off because of the big rescue response. An SFD public-information officer is on the way to deal with the increasing media presence.

11:51 AM UPDATE: The search continues. Per scanner traffic, the diver is part of an advanced class that was in deep water. Meantime, we checked the archives; last emergency response in the area involving a diver was in September; a diver felt ill after emerging from the water. The last water rescue involving a diver, according to our archives, was this one last May, in which the West Seattle Water Taxi and crew turned into rescuers.

12:04 PM UPDATE: The Coast Guard is also assisting in the search; it has a chopper flying over the area. Rescuers have been on scene for an hour now, but the diver remains – as described in radio traffic – “unaccounted for.”

12:33 PM UPDATE: Still awaiting word from our crew of an official SFD briefing. A diver who spoke with media crews a little while ago said this happened in 96 feet of water, clear conditions. Radio traffic indicates rescue vehicles will be thinning soon, with an announcement that Harbor Avenue likely will reopen within half a hour.

12:39 PM UPDATE: SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore confirms this is shifting from search to recovery – divers have made three passes and have not found any sign of the missing diver, described as a man in his late 20s, experienced, with more than 50 dives in the past. He was out as part of an advanced class and then seemed to be in some kind of distress and started going up “too fast”; another tried to follow him but upon reaching the surface didn’t see the one who was in trouble. The group then signaled to people on shore that there was a problem, and that’s when fire/police were called. Moore says diver teams have made three trips down to 75 feet looking for the missing diver but haven’t found any sign of him; four divers (two police, two fire) are going to take one more look shortly. (Added above, video of Moore’s briefing, unedited, in its entirety)

1:26 PM NOTE: According to our archives, the last diver death in this area was three years ago.

4:28 PM UPDATE: We went back to Seacrest at about 3 pm; Coast Guard and SPD boats were still there, with the former heading out to look again.

6:32 PM: We are working to confirm a report the diver’s body may have been located.

7:03 PM: Police confirm that a body has been located. Civilian divers continued looking into the evening and told authorities around 6 pm they believed they had found him.

7:49 PM: We have started a new story with continuing coverage of the recovery operation.

39 Replies to "Update: Body located in area where diver vanished"

  • Alki home base February 19, 2012 (11:21 am)

    We’ve had several police cars and fire trucks go by our apartment in the last 15 minutes

    • WSB February 19, 2012 (11:25 am)

      Yes, it sounds like a big response, and they’re still trying to locate the diver who’s in trouble, according to the scanner.

  • Jiggers February 19, 2012 (11:34 am)

    Every year, especially during the summer there is always a dozen rescues and at least one fatality. These operators of those dive schools and independent divers have to be held accountable. It costs the City hundreds of thousands of dollars every summer rescuing inexperienced divers. The currents around that point is very unpredictble, especially when the tides are changing.

    • WSB February 19, 2012 (11:36 am)

      Actually it’s been quiet for quite some time. I’m looking up the last diver rescue effort.

  • Valerie February 19, 2012 (11:37 am)

    Good thoughts coming. I hope the rescue is successful.

  • T February 19, 2012 (11:40 am)

    Let’s hope and pray for a good outcome instead of blaming the victim.

  • Eric February 19, 2012 (11:54 am)

    There is zero current practically speaking at any time at seacrest. That’s why it’s dived so much.

    • WSB February 19, 2012 (11:56 am)

      Also, I have just added this information to the story. Hasn’t been a water rescue since last May, when the Water Taxi helped get someone out of the water. Meantime, it’s going on an hour now and they still haven’t found the person reported to be in trouble. We have a crew at the dock as well as me monitoring scanner and other information from here – TR

  • fellow diver February 19, 2012 (12:17 pm)

    please keep the missing diver in your thoughts. This dive site is a GREAT place to learn to dive safely at ALL levels. That’s why it is so popular. The divers, instructors and stores know the rules and accept liability and risks where applicable. taking a bath and driving down the road actually have more risk involved than diving in the Alki area. Please focus on a positive outcome and support those that are first responders and divers you know… We have great records in the Northwest on safety and the sheer numbers of those that dive daily…. My thoughts are with all those at the coves today…

  • Steve February 19, 2012 (12:23 pm)

    Thank you for showing your support for the friends and family of the missing diver Jiggers. Thank you for the accuracy Eric. My thoughts are with all those people searching at Seacrest and the diver in the water and the missing divers family.

  • resident3 February 19, 2012 (12:39 pm)

    Why thinning after only an hour. They are just going to leave him in there?

    • WSB February 19, 2012 (12:49 pm)

      Resident, they haven’t been able to find any sign. One more group of police/fire divers is going down again. But they’ve made three passes to 75 feet of water (that’s the update I just added) and there’s not much, if any, hope of a successful rescue at this point. – TR

  • debbie February 19, 2012 (12:40 pm)

    My thoughts to everyone involved.

  • debbie February 19, 2012 (12:53 pm)

    Resident – as grave as it is, eventually your oxygen tank runs out. in a lost diver situation, timing is EVERYTHING.

    My mom was a missing diver 2 years ago for a scarry 20 mins. Let’s not blame anyone, it sounds like all the right things were done in this case.

  • Tony Ercolano February 19, 2012 (12:56 pm)

    I have dived the cove at least 50 times in all kinds of conditions. Currents are NEVER an issue.

    Divers have to dive the open water somewhere. Except for (perhaps) the Edmunds Underwater Park I can’t think of a better/safer place to dive in area.

    Dive problems typically fall into two broad catagories. Health issues, most likely cardiac, and equipment issues, most likely running out of air.

    In the case of a health issue, as long as the diver makes it to shore, I can’t think of a better place to have the problem. The diver is generally using a hightened gas mixture which will help. The diver is surrounded by other divers most of whom have taken extensive safety and rescue training, It is extremely likely that one of the other divers in the area has a tank of pure oxygen to administer when the afflicted has gotten to shore. Also most of the other divers have practiced many times what to do in the case of a health emergency. They will remain calm and do the right things. A fire house is less than 1 minute drive away. Major hospitals are less then a 10 minute ambulance drive away. I would say if a cardiac issue happens it’s better here than even at the divers home! If the health issue had happened at a ski resort would the odds be as good? Health issues are by far the predominant reason divers (over 40 years old) get into trouble.

    If the person ran out of air, all of the “pluses” above still hold. This is a sad mistake that is almost always the result of more than one bad thing happening. Again though, the Seattle Police and Fire have very extensive training to deal with this. I doubt you could find anywhere in the Northwest that has better resources to deal with this. As above, a non-health related profound problem occurring in an outdoor sport like skiing, backpacking, climbing would not have immediate resources to respond that diving at the cove does.

    My thoughts go the family, friends, and fellow divers involved.

  • LesleyB February 19, 2012 (12:59 pm)

    We watched the rescue scene unfold. I really thought they would find him. Very hard to watch for an hour with no results. I feel for his friends and family.

  • NotMe February 19, 2012 (1:03 pm)

    Hey Jiggers… Zip that crap, ok? The diver, the family, the rescue workers, and just about everyone else around you don’t want to hear that kind of venom. Just go away for a while.

  • Westside J. February 19, 2012 (1:07 pm)

    No bueno. Thoughts to his friends and family.

  • Mike February 19, 2012 (1:10 pm)

    Jiggers, this diver has done over 50 dives, that’s hardly being inexperienced. The cost of rescues being paid for by those being rescued would be similar to that same discussion regarding the even more costly rescue of people in distress in the back country. http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/02/19/2032643/incidents-renew-debate-on-who.html
    I think you’ll find the cost of that Coast Guard helicopter being deployed is more than the rest of the rescue efforts today.
    Is it expensive? Yes. Is it vital we have these services available to save lives? Yes. But to require people being rescued to pay is a bit insane. If you got into a car accident (key word accident) and you are not at fault, should you be required to pay for the fire truck, police, etc… being deployed to save you?
    Somebody possibly lost their life today. I’d say it’s worth the publics money used to potentially save a life. Better than other things our public dollars are spent on.

  • alki_2008 February 19, 2012 (1:49 pm)

    Just trying to understand the rescue effort here, but if one of the divers said the initial problems occurred in 96 ft of water…then why are the rescuers only going down to 75 ft? Is there some reason they’re not looking deeper than 75 ft?
    A sad situation.

  • interrobang February 19, 2012 (1:53 pm)

    This is just heartbreaking. Positive thoughts and prayers for the diver and his family.
    Fingers crossed they’ll be able to chalk it up to a scary experience, and that this diver didn’t lose his life.

  • diver February 19, 2012 (2:16 pm)

    alki_2008. with clear visability a diver at 75 feet can see to 100 without shortening their time they can spend under.

  • CB February 19, 2012 (2:19 pm)

    Since it is now considered a recovery, the dive team rules change. Often times departments limit the depths their divers are allowed to make to limit the risks to the rescue/recovery team. They also said that they did 75′ concentric circles, that means circles out to 75′ around the bouy, not 75′ depth.

  • My eye February 19, 2012 (2:21 pm)

    Alki, the bottom is actually quite steep. If they are running concentric circles starting at 75 the are most definately getting deeper.
    My thoughts are with the diver’s friends and family.

  • sad February 19, 2012 (2:26 pm)

    My condolences to his family and friends.
    Jiggers, please go away for a minute and think before you post.

  • Neal Chism February 19, 2012 (3:59 pm)

    My wife and I just happened to arrive down there at noon to meet up with and talk with one of the local divers and I saw the very large rescue response going on. I was filled with dread at that the moment. I was hoping it was a training event. However we asked one of the patrolmen at the scene and found out that it was an ongoing missing diver operation. The person we were to meet then drove up (already had heard the news), but still very sad for us to watch as right about then the rescue was turning into a recovery. So our condolences go this diver’s family and the close family of divers who also train and learn here. I also learned to dive at this spot a very long time ago.

  • vlado February 19, 2012 (4:38 pm)

    One of the common situations in diving that gets people into trouble is when they have a problem of some kind (medical or equipment) and do a free ascent without breathing out as they rise (panic makes you naturally hold your breath). The air expands in the lungs and causes and an air embolism, which is usually fatal. It is possible that is what happened to this diver, given that he was doing a free ascent from depth. Hopefully, we’ll find out if the recovery is successful. I do have to say that I was very impressed with the emergency response, especially the use of the extended fire ladder with a spotter on it before the helicopter arrived.

  • Dive4life February 19, 2012 (6:25 pm)

    If it was a runaway ascent, wouldn’t he still be buoyant on the surface? Does anyone have any details on this that make any sense?

  • W.S. Diver February 19, 2012 (6:46 pm)

    One man passes away while scuba diving, three in a avalanche @ Stevens and another in Snoqaulime avalanche. This has been a sad day. Please take a moment out of respect for all of their victims families and those that have helped with efforts to find them. Thank you Seattle Fire, Seattle Marine , Coast Guard and locals for such a thorough response. Our community appreciates your selfless duty. WSB thank you for keeping us connected.

  • CAF February 19, 2012 (7:05 pm)

    What a horrible circumstance. Apparently someone panicked during a class. Thank goodness there was such a strong response.

    Jiggers – there is more to life than worrying about money, and beyond that, you sound like you really don’t know what you’re talking about vis-a-vis dive emergencies at seacrest. The site is ridiculously safe and there is essentially zero current there at any time for anyone conscious and physically responsive. Furthermore, the incident rate at Seacrest is very low. There are not a dozen rescues per year. Take your venom and keep it to yourself please. Someone died today. Have you no respect at all?

  • carlton February 19, 2012 (7:14 pm)

    What were they going to do with that big ladder?

  • wescatle February 19, 2012 (7:27 pm)


  • HHHart February 19, 2012 (7:39 pm)

    oh no! money spent on search and rescue? I can’t really think of much else I’d want to spend my tax money on than search and rescue and possibly schools….stuff happens, people get lost, get hurt, in the ocean, in mountains, I’d be happy to “waste” some of my money finding them!

  • Eric February 19, 2012 (7:43 pm)

    Presumably the ladder had a spotter on it to watch for bubbles, look for a person floating at/near the surface/etc. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but seems likely to be quite effective, especially in the case most likely to be a rescue (diver still breathing and releasing bubbles)

  • debbie February 19, 2012 (9:38 pm)

    they also have an infared type device on the ladder (if i remember correctly) that senses ‘hot spotsm which could be body heat.

  • Morgan February 21, 2012 (10:59 pm)

    I am a friend of the diver who lost his life, he himself was a first responder, as I am, and he was an amazing person! He would have given his life for a perfect stranger and often spent his free time learning how to be better at helping strangers in a time of need. I felt it was an honorable tribute to his life seeing all of those first responders and friends, work so hard to bring him home to rest. Please … The best way you can remember this person, is to be kind to a stranger and help someone in need. That was the way he lived his life.

  • Marci February 22, 2012 (2:39 pm)

    I am also a friend of his. This is extremely sad news. He was wonderfuly kind and cared about helping others. Thank you to all of those who assisted with the rescue efforts.

  • ronald February 25, 2012 (10:37 pm)

    Hey again Jiggers, Just do a quick search on the lost diver now that his identity is known. Maybe you’ll eat your words; at least I hope you’ll have the decency to eat them without hesitation. This guy, may his soul rest in peace, was helping society, people like you that he didn’t know, by taking active roles in the Red Cross, in firefighting, in debugging your viruses at Microsoft, and I can go on and on and on. Just search and hopefully you;ll understand that some people put their lives (and obviously you don’t look like one) ahead of any material concern. What a shame to read comments like yours!!

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