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Jul 26, 2011 2:04 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Andrea Doria Claims Another Diver Off Montauk

Jul 26, 2011 4:08 PM

A diver died while exploring the wreck of the Andrea Doria off Nantucket on Sunday. The body of Michael A. LaPrade, 27, of California was brought ashore to the Montauk Coast Guard station near midnight Sunday night.

East Hampton Town Police Chief Edward V. Ecker Jr. said on Tuesday that Mr. LaPrade disappeared while diving along with two others from aboard the John Jack, a New Jersey-based boat that takes deep-sea divers out from Montauk in the summer.

“The wreck is dangerous, but it’s just so deep,” Chief Ecker said, divers need to use “tri-mixes” of gases in “all kinds of equations” to survive. “You have to know what you’re doing; there’s no real room for mistakes,” he said. The chief said he had personally responded to numerous deaths among Andrea Doria divers, including several aboard the Seeker, also out of Montauk.

Chief Ecker said his understanding was that on Sunday, there were three divers going down at the same time, with Mr. LaPrade “the last one in line.” When they got down about 225 feet below the surface, Chief Ecker said, the other two could no longer find him.

The divers did not know whether Mr. LaPrade had gone back up, the chief said. “It takes you about three hours to get to the surface because you have to stop and decompress,” he said. When the other two reached the top, they realized he was not there.

Petty Officer Robert Simpson of Coast Guard Sector Southeast New England said a call came in at 8:30 a.m. and that the cutter Hammerhead, out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, as well as a Falcon jet and a Jayhawk helicopter, both out of Cape Cod, were mobilized.

Another dive team from the John Jack went down, eventually finding Mr. LaPrade’s body in the general area the first two divers had returned from. It was brought to the surface at about 3:40 p.m., the Coast Guard was notified, and the John Jack’s captain, Richard Benevento, was instructed to return to Montauk, which is more than 100 miles away.

East Hampton Town Police met the ship at the Coast Guard station at about midnight, Chief Ecker said. “We went out and took statements from the captain and also a statement from his friend who was diving with him. He had no idea what happened.”

The Suffolk County Medical Examiner arrived at about 12:40 a.m., Chief Ecker said, and took the body and scuba equipment back to examine.

The Andrea Doria dive is “really super dangerous,” Chief Ecker said. The Italian luxury liner sunk in 1956 after colliding with a freighter. It has reportedly claimed the lives of 16 divers exploring it.

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Why don't they use explosives to destroy the wreck so people can't dive on it and lose their lives and put the Coast Guard guys in peril and waste tax dollars ?
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jul 26, 11 3:15 PM
Yea, then after that let's blast the titanic. That d*mn James Cameron could have had an accident on all those expeditions and could have cost the tax payers a couple bucks! Once we have blown up those two wrecks, maybe we can blow up the golden gate bridge since people have been known to jump off that which results in tax dollars being spent to recover the bodies.

You can't blame me for matching your ignorance with ridicule.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 26, 11 4:21 PM
Nature your logic is flawed.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jul 26, 11 4:32 PM
You're right. Mt. Everst is a much much much better example. Let's blow it up so people will stop climbing it and dying on it. Those Sherpa's don't pay for themsleves. . .
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 26, 11 8:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mt. Everst ? Never heard of it lol !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jul 27, 11 12:09 AM
Hampton Bays Rotary, Autumn Evening by the Sea, Joyce Oakland, Oaklands Restaurant