06 November 2005

Cape Cod: Scuba diver drowns near mouth of canal

The body of a scuba diver was pulled from the frigid waters alongside a jetty at the easternmost mouth of the Cape Cod Canal yesterday afternoon.

Bruce J. Switzer, 42, of West Yarmouth drowned in the Cape Cod Bay area near Town Neck Beach - a location notorious for strong currents, officials said.

"We determined that this was a tragic, accidental drowning," Sandwich Police Sgt. Joseph Cotter said.

For almost two hours, rescue crews from the Sandwich fire department and the U.S. Coast Guard combed the area surrounding Scusset Harbor for a man reported missing by his wife around 4 p.m.

It was unclear to authorities yesterday how Switzer drowned, but he was diving alone.

Switzer might have become entangled in some line, possibly attached to an underwater buoy or lobster trap, according to Timothy McMahon, the fire captain in charge of the rescue effort.

Officials said Switzer's diving equipment appeared to be functioning correctly, although he was missing a piece to his wetsuit. When he was found by authorities, Switzer wasn't wearing a buoyancy control device commonly used by divers.

Switzer's wife called 911 after her husband was overdue returning to shore, Cotter said. He apparently entered the water from the shores near Horizons on Cape Cod Bay restaurant.

Three divers from the fire department and a Coast Guard helicopter were soon dispatched to search for Switzer, who was eventually located about 300 feet offshore near the craggy jetty.

Searchers had to battle a strong, easterly moving current that looped back into the canal before finding Switzer's body.

While it was unclear why Switzer was scuba diving, several bystanders said the area is a popular scuba spot to search for lobsters.

In total, about six members of the police department and 12 from the fire department were involved in the search as the sun tucked into the clouds.

Kim Squire of the district attorney's crime scene unit and Sandwich police officer Jason Keene are investigating the incident because it was an unattended death.

Source: www.capecodonline.com


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