Diving teacher lost during sunken ship exploration

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Posted by on June 26, 2005 at 10:12:05:

In Reply to: Diver missing on the Yukon posted by Chris on June 26, 2005 at 09:54:22:

A 50-year-old diving instructor was missing last night after he was lost inside a sunken ship off Mission Beach, San Diego lifeguards said.

The man, who was not identified, was diving inside the Yukon, a 366-foot decommissioned Canadian warship, with a student when the two were separated about 6 p.m. yesterday, said lifeguard Lt. John Greenhalgh.

"He was considered one of the most technical divers in the region," Greenhalgh said.

About half an hour later, the crew of the Mission Bay-based charter boat Ocean Express radioed for help.

San Diego lifeguards were above the Yukon within 10 minutes and searched for the man for 40 minutes before calling the search off for the night, Greenhalgh said.

The Coast Guard cutter Haddock and a helicopter searched the surface of the water as well. The Haddock was planning to continue searching with lights through the night, said Petty Officer Robert Lanier.

"We're still treating it as a search for a missing person. We're still holding out hope that he is alive," Lanier said.

Divers plan to resume the search this morning.

When the rescue divers first descended, they hoped to find the man alive, Greenhalgh said. Those hopes faded after the instructor had been missing for more than an hour.

Depending on a diver's size and level of activity while exploring the Yukon, a typical air tank can last for 15 to 30 minutes, said Steve Haynes, former president of the San Diego Council of Divers.

"The deeper you dive, the faster you use air," he said.

The Yukon was sunk 1.85 miles off Mission Beach five years ago near two other sunken vessels in an area divers call "Wreck Alley."

"It's very popular," Haynes said. "In terms of wrecks it has fewer problems than most do."

Nobody has died inside the sunken Yukon.

Monica Vila, a 41-year-old recreational diver, died Dec. 29, 2000, as she descended toward the ship with two relatives.

Mia Tegner, a 53-year-old marine biologist, died about a week later after diving on the Yukon and other sunken ships. She ran out of air as she was coming to the surface, missing a decompression stop.

Instead of heading to a hyperbaric chamber, she grabbed another tank and dove back in to decompress and was never seen alive again.

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