June Lake Death

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Posted by ptf on March 19, 2007 at 10:22:12:

Was at a shop over the weekend and was asked by some what the story was at June Lake - I don't know I replied I haven't done recoveries for a while as I beleive that locally the Sheriff's now have a qualified team.

So to answer the question here is what I have found about a recent June Lake incident.

T.O. man dies in ice-diving accident in Mono County

By Tamara Koehler, tkoehler@VenturaCountyStar.com
March 15, 2007

A Thousand Oaks dive shop owner suffocated in an ice-diving accident earlier this week during a training session in Mono County.

Search and rescue teams recovered the body of Mike James Dahan, 41, owner of Channel Islands Scuba, on Monday afternoon from Gull Lake. The father of two daughters, ages 3 years and 3 weeks, had been missing since Sunday morning.

Dahan, an experienced diver and instructor, was diving with a colleague on the last day of a three-day training session. His diving partner was connected to a safety line running to a hole the men had cut into the 16-inch thick ice.

Dahan, the more experienced diver, apparently went into the water without a safety line but holding onto his partner's arm, said Shannon Kendall, spokeswoman for the Mono County Sheriff's Department.

With 10 minutes of oxygen left, the two men decided to surface.

"Apparently he lost his bearings," Kendall said. "He was following the other diver up to the surface, it was really dark down there and the other diver had on all black. After he got separated he couldn't find the opening in the ice and he only had 10 minutes of oxygen left."

Dahan's partner made it to the surface and waited for Dahan to appear. When he didn't, the man and another colleague made several shallow dives looking for Dahan but were limited by their low oxygen supply.

One man drove to the nearby town of June Lake and called for help. Mono County search and rescue teams arrived and sent down two certified divers, Kendall said.

They searched for several hours Sunday, then called for aid from the more specialized dive team with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The team arrived late Sunday with sonar and special cameras. The search resumed Monday morning and Dahan's body was found about 4 p.m. An autopsy completed Wednesday determined Dahan died of asphyxia.

Friends in the diving community described Dahan as a careful, meticulous diver. His diving store, established in 1988, is one of the oldest in Ventura County.

"That's very out of character for him not to use a line, if that's what happened," said Mike Brandow, owner of New England Divers shop in Long Beach and longtime friend. "He like to hunt, ski, dive. ... He did things that were adventurous but not stupid. I've known him a long time, he doesn't take chances."

Dahan doted on his two daughters, said Vickie Hiebert, an employee of Force Fin, a diving fin business in Santa Barbara.

"He was constantly sending me pictures. ... He was just so enamored of his children, you would just wish all dads could be like that," Hiebert said.

A few responses to the article (I removed the names):
Mike was a good diver and had been around the block more than he has told. Some people though of him as brash but I called him a friend.

He was a very carefull diver with tons of time under.
My heart goes out to his family.

I passed his store and saw it cleaned out and my heart sunk for him I heard of the accident the previous day at Aloha dive shop in the valley.

Mike was a good man and will be missed by all that crossed his path.

He was going to go out on my boat this Friday for lobster but I had not heard from him on Monday so i figured to call on Wedsday to set the time but I am in shock as I know everyone else is. I would like to know when the funeral will be, I would like to pay my respeck to a great guy.



One would think that considering the inherent dangers in diving under the ice, that this experienced diver would have taken caution in the extreme. Especially given that he has two young daughters and a widow (who wasn't mentioned....sadly) who were depending on him to come home to them. Selfish and risky pursuit and due caution not taken leaves two fatherless children. His "doting" on theme apparently didn't extend to taking into account that he was doing something that could kill him. And did. My heart, prayers and sympathy go to his family. I wish Mike would have been more careful.

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