Coast Guard and F.U.R.A. Combine Efforts to Rescue Diver in Guanica Waters

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crews of a Coast Guard helicopter and a Puerto Rico Police marine unit combined efforts to save a diver Wednesday in waters approximately three nautical miles southwest of the Playa Santa, Guanica shoreline.

The survivor is a 25 year-old man, resident of Guanica, who had gone out diving at 7 a.m. Wednesday and was expected to return from his dive three hours later.

Coast Guard Search and Rescue Coordinators at Sector San Juan received a call at 10:47 a.m. Wednesday from a friend of the diver, who requested assistance from the Coast Guard to search for the overdue diver.

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla launched a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter at 11:17 a.m. Wednesday to search for the overdue diver. The Coast Guard helicopter crew located the diver in distress at 11:54 a.m. waving his fins at the helicopter crew for assistance. The crew of a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action F.U.R.A. marine unit, operating in the vicinity, also arrived on scene and recovered the diver from the water and brought him on board the police vessel.

The crew of the F.U.R.A. marine unit transported the diver to the fishing village in Playa Santa, where he was transferred to awaiting paramedics who transported the diver to the Guanica Treatment Center, where he was later released in good health.

“It’s a good diving practice for divers to go out with a dive partner and mark the dive area with a proper dive flag as well as having available proper signaling equipment to facilitate search and rescue aircraft and vessels in locating them during a distress,” said Lt. j.g. George Suchanek, Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot.

Here are some safety tips to remember before and during a dive:

  • Never dive by yourself.
  • Ensure you have a dive plan and a diving “buddy.
  • File a float plan with a family member or friend. If you decide to deviate from your original intended plan, notify your emergency contact immediately.
  • Check your dive equipment carefully and ensure that equipment functions correctly.
  • Mark the area in which you are diving with a dive flag and a light. This is a federally mandated law and required when divers are in the water.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, hypothermia and dehydration, as well as procedures for emergency treatment.
  • Check local weather conditions before diving.
  • Taking basic safety precautions while diving will increase your chance of surviving a potential diving accident.
  • Boat operators should be alert and aware of dive flags.
  • If you have not been SCUBA diving in the past year, please ensure you are physically capable of handling ocean conditions before diving.
  • Divers should have proper diving signalling equipment in case of a distress.

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