MODESTO, Calif. -- Emergency personnel on Monday recovered the body of the second man to die in an apparent scuba diving accident at the Jamestown mine in Tuolumne County, Calif., this weekend.
Four men were scuba diving in the 500-foot deep, open-pit mine on Saturday afternoon when one of them, Jamie Pollard, 37, of Stockton, Calif., panicked for an unknown reason, according to Tuolumne County Sgt. Jeff Wilson.
Fellow diver Cameron Wheeler, 41, of Stockton, helped Pollard to the surface, where he appeared to be in stable condition.
Wheeler left Pollard on the shore and returned to the water to avoid decompression sickness from surfacing too quickly, and to search for the other two divers, Wilson said.
While Wheeler was 135 feet under, an unknown man called 911 to report Pollard as a drowning victim, Wilson said.
Emergency personnel responded to the mine at about 3:30 p.m. PDT, and Pollard was taken to Sonora Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Wheeler could not locate the other divers in the cold water that has created a lake at the abandoned open-pit mine. Upon resurfacing, Wheeler alerted emergency personnel the two were still missing, Wilson said.
But one of the two divers, who was not identified, believed to still be in the lake Sunday was eventually found at the accident scene alive and safe.
The other missing diver, 34-year-old David Allen Dedic of Lodi, Calif., never surfaced.
Volunteer search-and-rescue volunteers were called to search for Dedic, but a team was not able to be assembled until Sunday morning, Wilson said.
Rescue workers used a boat and sonar to attempt to locate Dedic on Saturday but their efforts were fruitless. Officials said a lack of equipment for working at the depths where the body was believed to be hampered recovering efforts.
Officials from the Army Corps of Engineers arrived Sunday evening with a Remotely Operated Vehicle equipped with a camera and control arm. With no sign of Dedic at sunset, rescue workers decided to resume the search Monday morning, Wilson said.
Several hour into the search Monday, the ROV located Dedic. It is not know how either Dedic or Pollard died, but an autopsy is scheduled for both.
Dedic and Pollard both had Facebook pages that listed "scuba diving" as their favorite activities and used profile pictures of themselves taken while diving.
Wilson said locals frequently use the old mine, which is on private property, as a swimming hole and divers have been known to explore the area. The rising water table from all the precipitation has been filling the pit with water.
The Sonora Mining Corp. dug the mine in the 1980s. It used massive shovels and crushers to squeeze traces of gold from a pair of pits.
The company moved an average of 71 tons of earth to reach each of the 700,000 ounces of gold produced from 1987 to 1994.
Modesto resident Vincent Estell and his partners have since purchased the mine and proposed an ambition plan to covert the land into a tourist attraction that will include botanical gardens, a youth baseball complex, lodging and more.
(c) 2011, The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.).
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