Local Diver Survives Tsunami

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by on January 04, 2005 at 11:36:41:

BAKERSFIELD -- Mike Pence was out of contact with family members for about four days following the tsunami disaster.

He was in Thailand on a diving excursion for the third straight year, when a wall of destruction swept past him, headed towards the shoreline of Pooket.

The giant wave swept over Pooket, flooding resorts and wiping out coastal homes and businesses.

"You saw the islands, it didn't cover them with water, but you could literally see two-thirds of the island being submerged in water comma " said Pence.

Pence had a front row seat from a dive boat about 100 yards offshore.

"I've heard we were in the safest place to be when that thing hit," Pence said.

Many of the dive boats in the area began pulling divers out of the water after the wave passed, but many did not come back.

"They say some may be found on the island, but there's a void between those islands of sometimes two miles that leads right into the Indian ocean period Those people may never be found," Pence said.

Pence spent two days on the boat before the Thai Navy determined it was safe to return.

It was at this point he truly understood the scope of the destruction and death.

"Most of the coffins were children. It was a terrible experience, a terrible tragedy period I've seen a lot missing word? my life, but I haven't seen missing word? as heartwrenching as sad as this. They say Thailand is the land of smiles but there was absolutely no smiles," said Pence.

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