Scuba diver rescued after hours in cold water, the first place to look for a dive instructor

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Posted by on March 29, 2005 at 15:57:17:

In Reply to: Scuba diver, kayaker safe after drifting out to sea posted by on March 28, 2005 at 11:25:14:

MONTEREY, Calif. - The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a scuba diver who drifted six miles from her diving party and spent more than five hours in the frigid waters of Monterey Bay.

Jennifer Thomas, 32, of San Jose, was suffering from mild hypothermia when she was rescued at roughly 7:30 p.m. Sunday two miles south of Moss Landing, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement. Rescuers fought driving rain, wind and rough swells.

Thomas, who went out earlier in the day with four other divers, was taken to Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, Coast Guard officials said. On Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said Thomas had been released.

Thomas and four others were scuba diving off Lovers Point at about 2 p.m. Sunday when the weather turned rough and the group began to drift, Coast Guard officials said.

A witness on shore spotted four divers stranded about a half mile off the point at 4 p.m. The witness called a nearby kayak shop and was told to call 911.

Frank Knight and Brian Glaseur, who operate the Adventures by the Sea kayak shop, already were looking for a kayaker who rented a boat that afternoon when they spotted divers through their binoculars.

They pulled two divers into their motor boat and another two shortly after.

"We couldn't believe there was someone out there floating in the water," Knight said. "They were in pure panic mode. They were yelling and screaming, but they were so happy to see us. I was just at the right place at the right time."

The four divers were transferred to the Coast Guard in good condition.

Hours later, a Coast Guard crew found Thomas flashing a handheld beacon and plucked her out of the water.

The divers told rescuers they thought they had gone down at least 60 feet. But the sea was murky and the water deeper than they anticipated, so they came back up.

When they surfaced, their dive boat and its pilot had apparently drifted away in the high winds. None of the divers could be reached for comment on Monday.

The kayaker who got caught in the choppy seas later paddled ashore.

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