Re: Body of diver recovered from sunken ship

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Posted by on June 28, 2005 at 16:34:12:

In Reply to: Body of diver recovered from sunken ship posted by on June 28, 2005 at 13:53:23:

SAN DIEGO -- Crews recovered the body Tuesday of a scuba instructor who went missing during a dive in a sunken ship off Mission Beach over the weekend.

An underwater search team found the body of Steven Donathan, 50, Monday afternoon, but because of the remoteness of the chamber where he died, officials couldn't recover his remains and postponed the effort until early Tuesday, San Diego lifeguard officials said.

Divers got Donathan's body to the surface shortly before 10 a.m. and turned it over to the county Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy, San Diego lifeguard Lt. John Greenhalgh said.

The divers planned to return to the scuttled Canadian destroyer Yukon Tuesday afternoon to retrieve Donathan's scuba equipment, which they removed to expedite the recovery process, Greenhalgh said.

On Saturday, Donathan got separated from a student as they were exploring the scuttled Canadian destroyer Yukon, according to San Diego lifeguard officials.

Donathan's last known location in the vessel was at a depth of 75-plus feet, where only the most experienced scuba enthusiasts go.

Dozens of divers from various public safety agencies carried out a series of searches for Donathan over the weekend, aided by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter crew.

The effort resumed early Monday morning, and shortly before 12:30 p.m., searchers found the missing man's body at the lowest level of the ship, Buchanan said.

The "incredibly cramped" conditions in the labyrinthine ship made the recovery effort a "huge challenge," Buchanan said.

Donathan's relatives had been monitoring the searches from the shoreline, holding out hope that he somehow would turn up alive.

Nearly five years ago, the 366-foot Yukon was intentionally sunk about a mile offshore, where the sea is roughly 100 feet deep. Since then, the retired warship has served as an artificial reef and an attraction for divers.

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