Dive equipment, clothing found as search continues
Updated: The police officer leading the search for missing diver David Byles said Tuesday that the operation has now moved into a ‘search and recovery’ phase.
“We are now in our third day of searching”, said Inspector Ian Yearwood. “It’s clear to everyone involved that it’s now extremely unlikely that Mr. Byles will be found alive. We have shared our concerns with his wife and we continue to keep her fully updated as to the status of the search and of any developments.”
Twenty-eight people are involved in the search today. The 13 divers and 15 police personnel continue to search the Barracuda Wall area.
Initial story: Fears were growing Monday for a missing scuba diver after his tank, dive vest and an article of clothing were found near the site where he was last seen Sunday morning.
Volunteer divers joined a police air and sea search Monday for David Byles, 57, from North Carolina, who disappeared after surfacing following a dive at around 10:20 a.m. Sunday.
He had not been found by Monday afternoon, though investigators said his tank, buoyancy control device and some clothing had been recovered close to Barracuda Reef, where Mr. Byles had been diving with local operator Sunset Divers.
Staff at the dive center said Mr. Byles had surfaced around 100 yards from the boat, Leopard Ray, along with the rest of his group, including his wife, following the dive. He had not shown any signs of distress and it was not until his group reached the boat that they noticed he was no longer with them, said general manager Keith Sahm.
Divers searched the area but could see no sign of Mr. Byles. Police were called and the helicopter was launched to aid Sunday’s search.
Mr. Sahm said seas were relatively choppy, but conditions were OK for diving and Sunset House had three boats out filled with divers Sunday.
“We are still trying to figure out what happened,” he said. “He came up with the rest of the divers. They were fairly close to the boat and there was no sign that anyone was in trouble.”
He said none of the group had noticed Mr. Byles, who was described as fit and in good health, suffering any difficulty. His wife thought he had boarded the boat before her and only raised the alarm when she realized this was not the case.
The marine police search resumed Monday with the assistance of a boat from Red Sail Watersports filled with volunteer divers, as well as the Department of Environment and port security.
Inspector Ian Yearwood said police were still treating the search operation as a rescue effort and were hopeful that the missing diver would be found alive.
Police later reported that volunteer and police divers had found dive equipment around 110 feet off the Barracuda Wall around 10:10 a.m. About three hours later, divers found clothing belonging to Mr. Byles about 135 feet off Barracuda Wall.
The search is scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Inspector Yearwood appealed for specialist divers, who are experienced in depths of at least 135 feet, to join the search. Anyone who is available, and has the requisite diving experience, can contact him on 649-7803 or 526-3159.