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Divers killed inspecting intake pipes

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers' started by Yotsie, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. Yotsie

    Yotsie Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Modesto, CA
    260
    4
    0
    This is in the county south of us. Water Resources is very mum on this one.



    Divers killed inspecting intake pipes
    California Aqueduct near Los Banos site of tragedy


    By VICTOR A. PATTON
    MERCED SUN-STAR


    Last Updated: February 8, 2007, 04:03:56 AM PST



    LOS BANOS — Two state Department of Water Resources divers inspecting a treacherous segment of the California Aqueduct died Wednesday after being submerged about 30 feet below the surface in murky, fast-moving water.
    The divers were conducting what officials say was supposed to be a 20-minute inspection at the Dos Amigos Pumping Plant near Los Banos.

    The victims were identified as Tim Crawford, 56, of Seaside and Martin Alvarado, 44, of Coalinga, Merced County Sheriff's Department spokesman Paul Barile said. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

    "For reasons we don't know yet, they did not come up," DWR spokeswoman Sue Sims said.

    Officer Tom Melden of the California Highway Patrol's Los Banos office said Crawford and Alvarado entered the water in the concrete aqueduct at the station about 10 a.m. A DWR safety officer, who had been standing on a platform above the aqueduct, noticed the two divers had not surfaced by 10:35 a.m.

    The safety officer at that point notified an on-site rescue diver, who entered the water and found the two men unresponsive, Melden said.

    The first diver was brought out of the water at 12:42 p.m. and the second at 12:50 p.m., Melden said. They were taken to Memorial Hospital Los Banos, where they were pronounced dead.

    Barile said the divers each used a single tank of oxygen.

    He described that section of the aqueduct as treacherous. It's about 75 feet wide and filled with muddy, dark water that rushes toward a large underwater grate designed to stop debris from entering the pumping station.

    The grate extends 25 to 50 feet below the surface, depending on the time of year and the amount of runoff entering the aqueduct.

    The CHP and California Occupational Safety and Health Administration are conducting an investigation, Barile said.

    Don Strickland, a DWR information officer, said the dive began at 10:10 a.m. and was scheduled to last 20 minutes.

    Strickland said the safety officer detected something was wrong after seeing bubbles coming to the surface.

    The divers were tethered together and inspecting two of the six pump intake pipes at the plant. They were approximately 30 feet under water, with two to three feet of visibility, Strickland said. Both divers were experienced, he added.

    "To the best of my knowledge, we have never lost a diver," Strickland said.

    Although diving inspections are fairly routine, the work can be hazardous because of the low visibility, especially when diving inside tunnels and pipes with heavy equipment, Strickland said.

    "If they were to have a problem when diving inside of a pipe or tunnel, it could present a real problem for them in getting out of there," Strickland said.

    "That wasn't the case today. They were not diving inside of a pipe but they were inspecting an intake pipe. What happened, we don't know at this point."

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
     
  2. H2Andy

    H2Andy Blue Whale

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NE Florida
    29,646
    375
    0
    man ...

    bad news indeed
     
  3. ReefGuy

    ReefGuy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Punta Gorda, Fl.
    3,138
    658
    113
    Where the heck was their tether???
     
  4. james croft

    james croft Solo Diver

    1,633
    50
    48
    Once again it looks like oxygen claims more divers. I am also wondering about the statement that the safety officer was concerned after seeing bubbles coming to the surface. Seems to me that would be a good thing unless there was a freeflow.
    I imagine the real facts will come out soon, all else is speculation, but I don't like the idea of being tethered to another diver. I don't mind being tended from the surface but being tethered to a diver increases the risk of getting fouled.
     
  5. pescador775

    pescador775 Loggerhead Turtle

    2,652
    4
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    There was no oxygen. What do reporters know? One of these guys got hung up, maybe in the grate. A few turns of line and it just got worse, and they couldn't see to untangle or figure the way out. The safety diver is holding back pending debriefing/investigation. IMO, of course.
     
  6. H2Andy

    H2Andy Blue Whale

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NE Florida
    29,646
    375
    0
    the oxygen is clearly a fiction on the part of the reporter (they always say that divers use oxygen, as james points out ... totally inacurate)

    that the observer thought something was wrong when he saw bubbles coming to the surface is likewise a fiction. what the guy probably said is he thought something was wrong when he DIDN'T see any more bubbles coming up to the surface

    as to what happened... i think pescador is right ... this sounds like a ripe scenario for an entanglement

    ...but .... they did about a 35 minute dive before a safety diver went in to check on them .... surely they had air left even if they had become entangled?
     
  7. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    4,367
    45
    0
    As usual this sucks and the news media reports what they think sells. I think part of it is the time constraints the media is under to get the story out first. We will just have to wait for the official reports to see what really happened.

    This sounds more like a storm channel than the main aqueduct system but who knows right now, it could be either. Anyway it is a tragic accident and I’m glad they didn’t lose more.

    And I'm worried about an 18" intake. 25' to 50' really does suck.

    Gary D.
     
  8. captndale

    captndale Dive Charter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Chicago Area
    990
    54
    28
    The very idea of scuba divers doing this kind of work is criminally reckless. This would have been a dangerous enough job for properly equipped hardhat divers with com gear, video and pole-mounted flow meters.
     
  9. james croft

    james croft Solo Diver

    1,633
    50
    48
    Well, the sad thing is you see it happen all the time. There is a place for scuba and there is a place for tended umbilicals with comm. Everyone likes to do it on the cheap.
     
  10. Jcsgt

    Jcsgt Photographer

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Oregon
    8,703
    0
    0
    I read something where their was still air in their tanks. So, it's suspect to me that both died if they still had air.
     

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