Two emergencies involving divers unfolded at Maine's Nubble Lighthouse this week, leading to man's rescue and another's death.
The first one came Monday morning, when a man became exhausted after diving and trying to swim to shore. He was rescued with the help of bystanders.
The second incident, which took place Tuesday afternoon, turned fatal. The U.S. Coast Guard, Maine Department of Marine Resources, York Police Department and York Beach Fire Department worked to recover a body after a report of a diver failing to resurface.
The diver the agency was looking for was an “older male,” Maine DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols said, but no other identification was given Tuesday evening.
According to John Lizanecz of the York Police Department, the investigation was still in its preliminary stages Tuesday and it was too early to tell what caused the diver’s death.
The diver was with a diving partner whom police and others were interviewing to piece together the cause of the incident.
York police said diving will be prohibited at Nubble Light until at least when the investigation into the death is more complete.
Incidents involving divers are not uncommon near Nubble Light, according to Captain David Osgood of the York Beach Fire Department. He estimated the department had already responded to two or three calls prior to Monday’s rescue.
“The current that runs through there can be extremely strong,” Osgood said.
Osgood said Monday’s rescue of the exhausted diver ended happily because York's parks foreman, Ryan Coite, is a trained lifeguard and was able to get into the water and pull the man to safety.
Bystanders onshore formed a human chain to assist Coite and get the man to first responders who cleared the man of any injuries.
“I knew I could get to him and it wouldn’t be a problem, but I knew I would need some help getting him back onto the shore safely,” said Coite, adding, “I didn’t realize until I had him back to shore that everybody had teamed up, it was quite a sight to see.”
While the human chain did help Coite, York Beach firefighters suggest that most people wait for professional help to arrive before attempting a water rescue in conditions like the ones at Nubble Light, in order to avoid further potential emergencies.
“If you’re not trained to do it, it can cause more harm than good sometimes,” said Osgood. “Ryan’s a strong swimmer and he knew what to do.”