2 Navy Divers Drowned ‘Accidentally’ in Maryland Weapons Test Pond

Tuesday, 09 Apr 2013 01:35 PM

By Michael Mullins

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The deaths of two Navy divers at a Maryland test pond facility in February were accidental drowning, according to Maryland’s chief medical examiner.

The announcement in a still-developing investigation was made Monday and is the only autopsy information authorized for release in the case, reported The Associated Press.

Both Naval divers were reportedly working at an underwater weapons-testing facility called the Super Pond when they died. It has since been closed by military officials pending the outcome of the investigations.

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The Feb. 26 deaths of Navy Diver 1st Class James Reyher of Caldwell, Ohio, and Navy Diver 2nd Class Ryan Harris of Gladstone, Mo., are being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2.

Both men were members of the Navy’s Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two, based in Virginia Beach, Va.

Shortly after their deaths a Harford County emergency response source told the Baltimore Sun that the divers were tethered to each other on air hoses during their underwater operation, as opposed to having self-contained breathing units.

Both men were reportedly in cardiac arrest when they resurfaced, according to the source.

Civilian engineering technician George Lazzaro Jr., 41, died at the same training facility one month earlier on Jan. 30 while reportedly conducting underwater maintenance. His death is being investigated by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Lazzaro, a former Marine, was married with four children.

The Aberdeen Proving Ground, an Army facility in which the pond is located, is approximately 20 miles northeast of Baltimore.

In an interview with local NBC affiliate Wavy.com, Harris' brother Kyle Harris recalled the late Navy diver’s lifelong diving passion.

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"He really loved doing what he did with the Navy. It was a passion of his that really came to be in high school,” said Kyle Harris, adding that his brother enlisted immediately after graduating from high school.

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