MENDOCINO COUNTY (KRON/BCN) — A 49-year-old Dublin man was one of three abalone divers who drowned in Caspar Anchorage Bay in Mendocino County on Sunday, sheriff’s officials said today.
Tae Won Oh, 49, of Dublin, and Hyun Kook Shin, 49, of Suwanee, Georgia, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The name of the third diver who drowned is being withheld, pending notification of next of kin. Deputies say he was a 53-year-old man from Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Mendocino County sheriff’s officials said the drownings occurred when a group of five men went abalone diving in the southern part of Caspar Anchorage Bay on Sunday afternoon.
Investigators said three of the men became trapped in the surf of a narrow channel between two rock outcroppings from where the divers had initially entered the water.
Witnesses described the surf as appearing rough and dangerous for diving conditions, with estimated seven to eight foot swells.
A nearby fisherman observed the men in distress and called 911 at 3:09 p.m., prompting a water rescue operation involving the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, California State Parks, the U.S. Coast Guard and
the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, deputies said.
Crews managed to rescue two divers by boat and helicopter, while two of the other men were pronounced dead at the scene.
The fifth diver could not be immediately located and a search for him continued throughout the day. Rescuers were eventually located the missing diver dead inside a nearby cove at about 7 p.m. They were
able to recover him using a technical rope rescue, according to sheriff’s officials.
The two surviving men were not injured, officials said.
A coroner’s investigation into the three deaths is ongoing.