Another death at Monastery

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Posted by Max Bottomtime on January 05, 2001 at 18:32:47:

The following story is from the Carmel Pine Cone newspaper. Does anyone have any updated info?

Another diver missing at Monastery Beach


THE MERCILESS waters off Monastery Beach claimed another apparent victim Thursday afternoon when a 31-year-old man disappeared while SCUBA diving with a friend about 100 yards off shore.

"The beach is so steep, the water is at least 150 feet deep where he was last seen," said battalion chief Mike Marlow of the California Department of Forestry.

The victim, who had reportedly made several Monastery Beach dives during the year since he took up the hobby, had only been in the water about seven or eight minutes when he was suddenly missed, according to his diving buddy.

"Visibility was bad, and I surfaced when I lost sight of him," said the victim's friend, who grieved quietly on the beach while he watched rescuers conduct a methodical search. "I looked for him on my own for about 20 minutes, until I ran out of air, and then I called for help," he said.

The friend declined to give his own name, or that of the missing man. "I have to call his girlfriend and tell her what happened, and I don't want her finding out from the news," the friend send.

The missing man, who lived in Newark, California, was at the end of a week's vacation in the Carmel area, his friend said, and was out for a final dive.

"We could only see 15 feet or so," the friend said. "But we weren't in the kelp, and I have no idea what happened." He said the missing man had no health problems that might tend to get him in trouble under water.

Within half an hour of the call for help, units from the U.S. Coast Guard, CDF, Pacific Grove Ocean Rescue, Carmel Highlands Fire and the Monterey County Sheriffs Department responded to the beach, where temperatures were in the 70s, skies were clear and the sea was almost calm.

With a Coast Guard cutter, a Zodiac and several swimmers in the water, a helicopter searched from the air without turning up any sign of the missing diver.

After two hours, the victim's friend retreated to a CDF vehicle where he somberly made calls on a cell phone.

"It's absolutely terrible how often this happens," said state parks ranger Chuck Bancroft. The beach, less than one mile south of Carmel, is named for the nearby Carmelite Monastery, but has a macabre nickname -- Mortuary Beach -- because of the many victims claimed by its treacherous surf and hazardous currents.

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