Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

General banter about diving and why we love it.
User avatar
Dusty2
I've Got Gills
Posts: 6388
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:04 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by Dusty2 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:30 pm

You did good. Thanks for the report at least now we have a few of the facts from a reliable source. I would assume since this guy was on CCR that he was not an inexperienced diver.

User avatar
Joshua Smith
I've Got Gills
Posts: 10242
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:32 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by Joshua Smith » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:38 pm

Dusty2 wrote:You did good. Thanks for the report at least now we have a few of the facts from a reliable source. I would assume since this guy was on CCR that he was not an inexperienced diver.


Not a safe assumption. Anyone with an OW cert and money can dive one.
Maritime Documentation Society

"To venture into the terrible loneliness, one must have something greater than greed. Love. One needs love for life, for intrigue, for mystery."

User avatar
Joshua Smith
I've Got Gills
Posts: 10242
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:32 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by Joshua Smith » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:42 pm

stphnmartin wrote:I can add a bit of post accident information as my buddy and I found the body yesterday afternoon off Blakely Rock.

Originally we planned two dives on KVI tower, but after we drove down to redondo to launch the boat, we discovered the parking lot completely full with no place to park the truck and trailer. We decided to drive back up and launch from Alki and motor down to KVI. So, we did one dive on KVI and as we got back into the boat the Aluminator arrived with a six pack and we decided we'd do a second dive on Blakely Rock on the way back to Alki boat launch. So we handed the mooring buoy over to the Aluminator and motored north.

Since there's no longer a buoy at Blakely rock we anchored on the eastern side to dive what my buddy and I call the east reef. I think it's also called Shangri-la. I had read on Saturday a diver was lost on the Rock somewhere. I mentioned to my buddy that in the unlikely event we come across the missing diver, that we wouldn't try to retrieve it, just mark it with an SMB for retrieval by the authorities.

We jumped in and dived the main wall that flows eastward from the rock. The wolf eels were plentiful and I videoed 4 of them as my buddy pointed them out along the route. We had also decided to turn around a bit early to leave time to find the anchor to get back to our boat. So at the appointed air pressure my buddy signaled me it was time to turn around and we began retracing our path from a max dept of around 80-90 feet. (I'll have to check my computer to confirm).

When we drop down the wall we like to be at the base or side of it to look for marine life. As we ascend we pop up onto the top to look for things we may not have seen on the way down. My buddy was above me and signaled me with his light around 70 feet. I prepared to lift my video camera thinking it was wolf eel number 5.

My mind took a minute to process what I was seeing. I made out a figure in scuba gear and thought, oh, there's other divers on the reef. Then I thought, hmmm, ours was the only boat on the surface. Then I noticed the diver was on his back, mask off, regulator out of his mouth and my heart stopped beating. I could see he was using rebreather equipment. His dive computer was illuminated and functioning on his wrist, but I didn't get close enough to fully read the display.

I regained control of my mind, reached into my thigh pocket, retrieve my finger spool and SMB and handed them to my buddy. He handed the spool back to me and prepared to inflate the marker. I was a bit confused at first because I've never just handled a spool when launching an SMB and it seemed weird to have just one part of it. Nonetheless, he inflated the marker just enough and sent it on it's way from 70 feet. Of course I lost the spool but he had it fine--although he popped up about 10 feet. He dropped back down looking for a place to attach it to the diver. I lifted up the end of the diver's hip belt and my buddy attached the line to the D ring.

We gave each other an okay and moved up slope to get back to the boat. We were in a bit of shock and swimming hard and fast to get back to the boat. Both of us were also confused about what depth we left the anchor and began our search at 30 feet. With air getting low, I signaled to just continue up slope to surface, and then we found the anchor right where we left it in 20 feet of water. Our jostled memories were off by 10 feet.

Back on the boat I dialed 911 and spoke to several different people about our location. I got several calls back from Bainbridge authorities as well as Seattle. Seattle Fire Department also hailed us on the radio and told us someone was on the way.

Meanwhile the Salish Explorer approached us and we apprised them of the situation. We all just sat there for about an hour before a Bainbridge police officer arrived on a small rescue boat. I noticed the 3 occupants of the boat were not in dive gear. The police officer boarded our boat and interviewed us. We gave him all the information and he said retrieval personnel were on the way and we could leave.

I've learned subsequently, in this article, they weren't able to retrieve the diver until today:
http://www.insidebainbridge.com/2013/07 ... sland-man/


Like Dusty said: you did good. Thanks for posting.
Maritime Documentation Society

"To venture into the terrible loneliness, one must have something greater than greed. Love. One needs love for life, for intrigue, for mystery."

User avatar
spatman
I've Got Gills
Posts: 10881
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 7:06 am

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by spatman » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:19 pm

stphnmartin wrote:I can add a bit of post accident information as my buddy and I found the body yesterday afternoon off Blakely Rock.


Thanks for taking the time to tell your story. You guys did it right, and I hope you never have to again.
Image

User avatar
lamont
I've Got Gills
Posts: 1212
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 7:00 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by lamont » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:30 pm

Grateful Diver wrote:Speaking strictly for me, I can't imagine a situation on a recreational dive site that would prevent me from assisting a diver to the surface. Abandoning him on the bottom is a death sentence, and speaking strictly for me, I'd go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that didn't happen. At this particular site, worst case, I'm dragging him upslope till I can place him on the rocks. I can't imagine a circumstance that would prevent that.


What I've heard (thirdhand, probably, so grain of salt and all that) is that on at least one of the attempts by recovery divers that his canister and loop were completely flooded and he was probably negative 40# and they failed to get him up.

That might have been after he was out there for a day though and the can gradually flooded, still that's an example of a complication that you could have in a recovery that could reasonably lead to abandoning a body at depth.

And stphnmartin -- good work doing that and being safe and just tagging the body and letting the recovery divers do their job.

User avatar
Grateful Diver
I've Got Gills
Posts: 5321
Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 7:52 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by Grateful Diver » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:10 am

lamont wrote:
Grateful Diver wrote:Speaking strictly for me, I can't imagine a situation on a recreational dive site that would prevent me from assisting a diver to the surface. Abandoning him on the bottom is a death sentence, and speaking strictly for me, I'd go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that didn't happen. At this particular site, worst case, I'm dragging him upslope till I can place him on the rocks. I can't imagine a circumstance that would prevent that.


What I've heard (thirdhand, probably, so grain of salt and all that) is that on at least one of the attempts by recovery divers that his canister and loop were completely flooded and he was probably negative 40# and they failed to get him up.

That might have been after he was out there for a day though and the can gradually flooded, still that's an example of a complication that you could have in a recovery that could reasonably lead to abandoning a body at depth.

And stphnmartin -- good work doing that and being safe and just tagging the body and letting the recovery divers do their job.


Dump weights? Drop the rig?

Given the circumstances, a flooded loop is likely.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Threats and ultimatums are never the best answer. Public humiliation via Photoshop is always better - airsix

Come visit me at http://www.nwgratefuldiver.com/

User avatar
fishb0y
Dive-aholic
Posts: 267
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:35 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by fishb0y » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:28 am

You guys did exactly what you should have. Since this is a recovery and not a rescue, you would want to keep as much of his gear intact to help determine what happened.
This one hits kind of close to home for me...

AdrianSmith
Avid Diver
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:02 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by AdrianSmith » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:39 am

Agreed, fishb0y. And now that he's been recovered lets hope that speculation is set aside and we can get some solid information as to what happened. I suspect the result will be "death by drowning", as it usually is, but we can always hope for more information.

My condolences to the family.

-Adrian

User avatar
Sea Goat
Frequent Bubbler
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:35 am

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by Sea Goat » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:00 am

Good job. Good thinking. That must have been very traumatic.
NWUE Founding Member
GUE Seattle
http://www.GUE-Seattle.org

User avatar
Matt S.
Submariner
Posts: 512
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:08 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by Matt S. » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:14 am

The Inside Bainbridge article says, "Yesterday, one of two divers who were exploring off the edges of Blakely Rock noticed his diving partner was no longer following him. He retraced his path and found his buddy unresponsive."

When I was a brand new diver, that was my nightmare scenario. I got over that anxiety very quickly as I learned to trust my gear, my skills, and my buddy's skills. But if I was in what seems to be this buddy's situation... if we got separated for just a few minutes, and in that brief time the buddy needed help... That would be hard to deal with. Poor guy.

Not that I'm blaming the buddy by any means, I obviously don't know how their dive went or what may have caused them to get separated or how long they were apart. I am just sure it feels rotten for him.

JasonDiver
Frequent Bubbler
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 9:17 am

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by JasonDiver » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:44 pm

I know that this statement by the media is not accurate for a couple of reasons: "Yesterday, one of two divers who were exploring off the edges of Blakely Rock noticed his diving partner was no longer following him. He retraced his path and found his buddy unresponsive."

ohopdiver
Aquaphile
Posts: 189
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by ohopdiver » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:45 pm

I was on my boat at Blakely Rock tied to the China Wall buoy with 2 divers in the water when I heard the missing diver call on VHF. We left about an hour later with several police and or coastguard boats there and thinking the victim had been found and at least in the process of being recovered. I was surprised to learn that evening that the search was called off. My imagination is trying to fill in the unknown details and make sense of the lost-found-lost-found and finally recovered sequence over three days but I know I'll have to wait for an official report to understand what really happened.

LowDrag
Extreme Diving Machine
Posts: 456
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:52 am

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by LowDrag » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:03 pm

Good job guys...I am sorry you had to deal with this situation. I know it is hard thing to deal with.

User avatar
dewmercer
Avid Diver
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:32 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by dewmercer » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:48 am

You made an outstanding choice in not attempting a recovery. Good work with the spool and bag.

well done

DAve

stphnmartin wrote:I can add a bit of post accident information as my buddy and I found the body yesterday afternoon off Blakely Rock.

Originally we planned two dives on KVI tower, but after we drove down to redondo to launch the boat, we discovered the parking lot completely full with no place to park the truck and trailer. We decided to drive back up and launch from Alki and motor down to KVI. So, we did one dive on KVI and as we got back into the boat the Aluminator arrived with a six pack and we decided we'd do a second dive on Blakely Rock on the way back to Alki boat launch. So we handed the mooring buoy over to the Aluminator and motored north.

Since there's no longer a buoy at Blakely rock we anchored on the eastern side to dive what my buddy and I call the east reef. I think it's also called Shangri-la. I had read on Saturday a diver was lost on the Rock somewhere. I mentioned to my buddy that in the unlikely event we come across the missing diver, that we wouldn't try to retrieve it, just mark it with an SMB for retrieval by the authorities.

We jumped in and dived the main wall that flows eastward from the rock. The wolf eels were plentiful and I videoed 4 of them as my buddy pointed them out along the route. We had also decided to turn around a bit early to leave time to find the anchor to get back to our boat. So at the appointed air pressure my buddy signaled me it was time to turn around and we began retracing our path from a max dept of around 80-90 feet. (I'll have to check my computer to confirm).

When we drop down the wall we like to be at the base or side of it to look for marine life. As we ascend we pop up onto the top to look for things we may not have seen on the way down. My buddy was above me and signaled me with his light around 70 feet. I prepared to lift my video camera thinking it was wolf eel number 5.

My mind took a minute to process what I was seeing. I made out a figure in scuba gear and thought, oh, there's other divers on the reef. Then I thought, hmmm, ours was the only boat on the surface. Then I noticed the diver was on his back, mask off, regulator out of his mouth and my heart stopped beating. I could see he was using rebreather equipment. His dive computer was illuminated and functioning on his wrist, but I didn't get close enough to fully read the display.

I regained control of my mind, reached into my thigh pocket, retrieve my finger spool and SMB and handed them to my buddy. He handed the spool back to me and prepared to inflate the marker. I was a bit confused at first because I've never just handled a spool when launching an SMB and it seemed weird to have just one part of it. Nonetheless, he inflated the marker just enough and sent it on it's way from 70 feet. Of course I lost the spool but he had it fine--although he popped up about 10 feet. He dropped back down looking for a place to attach it to the diver. I lifted up the end of the diver's hip belt and my buddy attached the line to the D ring.

We gave each other an okay and moved up slope to get back to the boat. We were in a bit of shock and swimming hard and fast to get back to the boat. Both of us were also confused about what depth we left the anchor and began our search at 30 feet. With air getting low, I signaled to just continue up slope to surface, and then we found the anchor right where we left it in 20 feet of water. Our jostled memories were off by 10 feet.

Back on the boat I dialed 911 and spoke to several different people about our location. I got several calls back from Bainbridge authorities as well as Seattle. Seattle Fire Department also hailed us on the radio and told us someone was on the way.

Meanwhile the Salish Explorer approached us and we apprised them of the situation. We all just sat there for about an hour before a Bainbridge police officer arrived on a small rescue boat. I noticed the 3 occupants of the boat were not in dive gear. The police officer boarded our boat and interviewed us. We gave him all the information and he said retrieval personnel were on the way and we could leave.

I've learned subsequently, in this article, they weren't able to retrieve the diver until today:
http://www.insidebainbridge.com/2013/07 ... sland-man/
--
DAve Mercer

User avatar
olalladiver
Aquaphile
Posts: 189
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:38 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by olalladiver » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:36 pm


User avatar
H20doctor
I've Got Gills
Posts: 4100
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:13 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by H20doctor » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:42 pm

66691_139543256091590_3718466_n.jpg
NWDC Rule #2 Pictures Or it didn't Happen

User avatar
CaptnJack
I've Got Gills
Posts: 7771
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:29 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by CaptnJack » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:55 pm

Sad face, sad day.

Maybe I missed it, was this a private boat dive or a charter?
Sounder wrote:Under normal circumstances, I would never tell another man how to shave his balls... but this device should not be kept secret.

JasonDiver
Frequent Bubbler
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 9:17 am

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by JasonDiver » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:56 pm

He was diving from the Salish Explorer dive boat.

User avatar
dlh
Submariner
Posts: 527
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:10 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by dlh » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:17 pm

Wow, very sad indeed. I knew Gene and dove with him on a number of dive trips over the last several years. He was a great guy, and an awesome videographer. He will be missed by many.

Cheers to those who helped to find him. I can only imagine how shocking and disturbing that must have been. I am glad it was done carefully and without incident.
Dave

User avatar
McGlencoe
Dive-aholic
Posts: 279
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:50 am

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by McGlencoe » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:32 am

olalladiver wrote:http://www.bainbridgereview.com/news/217649081.html



Coroner ID's diver found in Blakely Harbor

July 30, 2013 · 1:45 PM

The Kitsap County coroner has identified the diver who died in Blakely Harbor Saturday as Gene Priestman, 65, of Bainbridge Island.

Priestman was the diver recovered from Blakely Harbor on Monday, July 29.

The body was taken to the Kitsap County Coroner's office in Port Orchard after it was recovered near Blakely Rock Monday afternoon.

An autopsy has been performed and the coroner is awaiting its results.



Condolences to the family and friends.

User avatar
Joshua Smith
I've Got Gills
Posts: 10242
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:32 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:28 am

JasonDiver wrote:He was diving from the Salish Explorer dive boat.



Hmm. I thought they weren't taking divers out any more?

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21024
Maritime Documentation Society

"To venture into the terrible loneliness, one must have something greater than greed. Love. One needs love for life, for intrigue, for mystery."

JasonDiver
Frequent Bubbler
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 9:17 am

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by JasonDiver » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:57 am

Joshua Smith wrote:
JasonDiver wrote:He was diving from the Salish Explorer dive boat.



Hmm. I thought they weren't taking divers out any more?

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21024


Salish Explorer took on a new owner who agreed to give it try for a short time again to see if it was profitable to take divers.

defied
I've Got Gills
Posts: 2057
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:14 pm

Re: Missing diver off Blakely Rocks

Post by defied » Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:32 pm

JasonDiver wrote:
Joshua Smith wrote:
JasonDiver wrote:He was diving from the Salish Explorer dive boat.



Hmm. I thought they weren't taking divers out any more?

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21024


Salish Explorer took on a new owner who agreed to give it try for a short time again to see if it was profitable to take divers.

Maybe not-so-much.

D

Post Reply