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Diver's body recovered near Blake Island
The body of Central Kitsap SCUBA diver Gerard Martin Hall, 59, was recovered at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 21.
Hall's body was recovered by Navy divers in 34-feet deep water near the spot he went missing the day before just south of Blake Island. Deputy Scott Wilson, who serves as the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office spokesman, said the underwater search capabilities provided by U. S. Navy divers played a key role in assisting the sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Unit and detectives to locate the body.
Hall was reported missing just before noon on Sunday by others in his party. An experienced diver, Hall had been engaged in recreational diving approximately 40 feet from the south shore of Blake Island. He was accompanied by a dive partner.
Hall and another diver, a 38 year-old male from Bremerton, were spearfishing in waters approximately 30 feet deep and about 40 feet from the shoreline of Blake Island.
Hall’s dive partner speared a fish and both divers then surfaced. Upon surfacing, Hall yelled that he needed help. The dive partner swam over toHall to render assistance. Shortly after, Hall disappeared under the water.
Emergency response units from several agencies converged on the location where Hall was last seen and spent the afternoon engaged in search operations. Those efforts included: surface search assistance provided by U. S. Coast Guard Cutter WAHOO (WPB 87345), two 25-foot response boats and one 45-foot response boat, and air search capability with a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter; underwater Search and Rescue Volunteers of Kitsap County; a Port Orchard Police Department boat with rescue personnel from South Kitsap Fire & Rescue; and a Seattle Fire Department boat with divers and medics.
The search was suspended around 6 p.m. for safety reasons when the weather deteriorated.
Early Monday, sheriff’s SAR coordinators requested assistance from the Navy to help with the recovery search effort. Sixteen divers from Naval Base Kitsap – Bangor, and from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Keyport, responded. They entered the water at 5:21 p.m.
Upon return of the sheriff’s boat to the dock in Manchester, the diver’s body was turned over into the custody of the Kitsap County Coroner.
Although all indications are that the recovered body is that of Gerard Hall, the coroner is responsible for confirming the identity of the deceased and for determining the cause and manner of death, Wilson noted. An autopsy will be performed by the county’s forensic pathologist.
All diving equipment in use by the deceased diver at the time of the mishap will be examined by experts to determine if equipment malfunction was a factor in this tragedy, Wilson said.
The investigation into the diver’s death continues by sheriff’s detectives.