Crime

Crews search for missing diver near Les Davis Pier in Tacoma

Update as of 10 a.m.:

Searchers continued looking Thursday for a missing 50-year-old scuba diver who disappeared Wednesday during her first open water dive near Les Davis Pier in Tacoma.

The search now includes a Navy helicopter, Coast Guard crews, divers and search boats from the Tacoma Fire Department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and a 45-foot boat from the Coast Guard. Also brought in to assist are a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, a Navy MH-60 Seahawk and an 87-foot patrol boat from Bellingham.

Anyone who spots the missing diver or has information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Coast Guard at 206-217-6001.

Original story:

Crews on Wednesday searched for a 50-year-old Portland scuba diver who did not resurface with her dive group near Les Davis Pier in Tacoma.

As of Wednesday evening, she had not been found.

The woman got her scuba certification two weeks ago, and was one of eight people who came up from Portland to dive in the open water of Commencement Bay, police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

Most of them arrived near the pier about 10 a.m. to get ready, and they went in as a group about 1 p.m.

Shortly after that someone called 911 to report seeing a diver in distress, possibly flailing in the water. When the other divers resurfaced, they realized the woman was missing.

Search divers and three boats from multiple agencies, including the Tacoma Fire Department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, looked for the woman.

Curt Delp said he was walking along Ruston Way about 10 a.m. when he saw four men and one woman getting their scuba gear on in the Les Davis parking lot.

“The were drinking orange juice,” he said. “She was passing out cookies. The last I saw of them, they were putting their gear on. She was just walking around, talking to them.”

When he came back in the afternoon, he saw the emergency crews responding. He didn’t know whether it involved the same group of divers.

David Arbanas said he was reading his newspaper near the pier when he heard some commotion. He saw the group of divers in the water about 1 p.m., and about 50 feet away: “a swirl of bubbles and movement of water.”

He said the group made its way to shore, and the leader of the divers yelled out, apparently to firefighters arriving to the scene, that there was one missing.

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