Retired Hemet officer dies in scuba diving accident

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Posted by on June 02, 2008 at 15:29:19:

In Reply to: death at casino point posted by LINDA ZUKOWSKI on May 31, 2008 at 21:17:58:

A retired Hemet sheriff's sergeant died in a weekend scuba diving accident off Catalina Island, authorities said Sunday.

David Ray Pike, 50, of Hemet, was declared dead Saturday after rescue personnel tried for hours to revive him, said Gary Pfahler, a dispatcher with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in Avalon.

Pike was diving with an instructor in 20 feet of water at Casino Point Underwater Park in Avalon at about 8:50 a.m., Pfahler said. Pike gave the instructor a thumbs-up and she went to the surface to bring another diver down, but then Pike surfaced unexpectedly.

"He wasn't breathing. He was turning blue," Pfahler said.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed and Pike was transferred by paramedics to the hyperbaric chamber on the island. He was unresponsive and was declared dead a couple hours later, Pfahler said.

The chamber uses high-pressure air with a high oxygen content to treat complications from diving such as decompression sickness and air embolism. The Los Angeles County coroner's office did not have a cause of death for Pike on Sunday.

An autopsy has not been performed yet, and the results will take 6 to 8 weeks with toxicological tests, Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. John Kades said by phone. The case is being treated as an accidental, scuba-related fatality, he said.

Pike was diving in an area popular for its marine life, kelp forests and numerous shipwrecks.

He was adventurous, said Riverside sheriff's Sgt. Dave Stroh, a former co-worker.

The two met in 1985 while Pike was a deputy at the Hemet station and Stroh was new to the department. Many of the younger deputies looked up to Pike for help on police tactics and officer safety, Stroh said.

"He was the go-to guy on how to perform your duties and do it in a safe manner," said Stroh, of the sheriff's special investigations unit in Riverside.

Pike's special forces training in the Army made him a perfect candidate for the sheriff's SWAT team in the late 1980s, Stroh said.

Stroh said he thought Pike retired within the last six months.

"He always seemed to take good care of himself. He watched what he ate and liked to work out with weights," Stroh said. "He stayed active his whole career."

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