Abalone diver remains missing after search by Coast Guard and local agencies

ALAMEDA, Calif. – An abalone diver remains missing following a search by the Coast Guard and the Elk Volunteer Fire Department. The 50-year-old man was reportedly diving with others in the ocean approximately 16 miles south of Noyo River in Elk, Calif.

At about 9:30 a.m., watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay Command Center received a report of four divers who were reportedly exploring a local cave when a strong swell injured one of the divers. The other members of the group attempted to recover the injured diver, but due to the sea state, they were unable to and went for help.

Elk Fire Department was already on scene searching the shoreline for the missing person when the Coast Guard crews launched a helicopter from Sector Humboldt Bay and a Motor Lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Noyo River to join the effort.

Station Noyo River’s boat crew searched offshore, but was unable to search the caves due to the danger the surf posed on the rocky shoreline. Sector Humboldt Bay’s helicopter crew searched the shoreline and then lowered a rescue swimmer to search the caves. The rescue swimmer searched as far as safely possible into each of the caves and around the area but was unable to locate the injured diver. Rescue divers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Elk Volunteer Fire Department also conducted a thorough search of the caves in the vicinity where the missing diver was reported. After conducting the search of the area, Coast Guard crews returned to their bases.

“Diving is a high-risk sport,” said Captain Salvatore G. Palmeri of Sector Humboldt Bay. “Safety must always be the primary concern, especially when you are dealing with the unpredictability of the ocean.”

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