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FYI - Body of missing diver found 17 years later
Posted by GS
on 8/10/2011, 9:01 am
Body of missing diver found 17 years later
The remarkably well-preserved body of a scuba diver who vanished in Lake Tahoe 17 years ago has been found, US authorities said.
The body of Donald Christopher Widecker was pulled from the lake on July 27, four days after divers stumbled across it while exploring a granite cliff 82 metres below the surface.
The 44-year-old disappeared in the frigid waters on July 10, 1994, after apparently suffering a medical or equipment problem.
El Dorado County Sheriff spokesman Sergeant Jim Byer says divers discovered Mr Widecker still wearing a wetsuit and buckled into his scuba gear and air tank.
"This group was doing just a routine planned dive and it was literally a needle in a haystack," he said.
"He was wedged in a crevice in the rock or he'd have gone all [the] way to [the] bottom and we'd never [have] found him."
Authorities located the ledge using a remote-controlled mini-submarine and recovered Mr Widecker's body, which has undergone an autopsy to determine what caused his death.
"Here we have a diver in 270 feet of water that stays at 36 to 38 degrees (2.2 to 3.3 degrees Celsius) constantly, doesn't change much," Sergeant Byers said.
"Because he had wetsuit on, he was protected from the elements and was just remarkably preserved. From a pathological standpoint it's pretty incredible.
"Literally, it's a little spooky."
Sergeant Byers said that in 2001, divers came across Mr Widecker's body and tied a buoy line to it, but the line snapped and authorities were unable to find the spot.
Mr Widecker's body still had the broken buoy line attached to it when it was recovered, Sergeant Byers said.
Tahoe, on California's border with Nevada, is the second-deepest lake in the United States, reaching depths of 501 metres.
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