Omaha Diver Missing In Arkansas
Photo: Video by kmtv.com
Beaver Lake, AR- Arkansas crews have been searching since Saturday for Michael Burton, 28, a scuba certified diver from Omaha. Monday night, they suspended their search and will resume again Thursday.
Carroll County Sheriff Bob Grudek said Burton is a drowning victim in Beaver Lake. He said Burton is an experienced spear fisherman. He disappeared while spear fishing with a friend in a cove off an island in Beaver Lake around 11 a.m. Saturday morning.
Search and rescue divers from several counties were involved in the search. They used sonar equipment and cadaver dogs from Little Rock. Sonar hasn't helped to date because of all the trees underwater, officials say.
"We decided to bring in cadaver dogs to actually hit on some spots," said Rick Downum, Benton County Dive Team Training Officer.
Officials think Burton's body is on the bottom of the lake and believe he either got caught up in some fishing line or other debris that kept him under, or he had a "shallow-water blackout."
Grudek said Burton and a dive buddy were spear fishing in with the lake. They did not have air tanks. They were free diving. The friend told officials he was having pain from a blockage in his ear. The friend swam back to their boat to retrieve medication. Burton did a solo dive, the friend said.
When the friend returned to the water, he saw Burton's float device attached to his spear gun at the surface. He tugged it to alert Burton he had returned. When the line was limp and then the friend realized Burton was in trouble.
Burton was wearing a dive suit with heavy gloves, a swim mask and a 14-pound belt. Grudek said that has complicated finding the diver's body. The cove the men were free diving in measures about 600 feet across at the mouth and are approximately 800 feet in depth, with water as deep as 60 feet.
Alan Bland, an Army Corps of Engineers park ranger, compared the cove to a thick underground forest.
"There's 100 different things that could have gone wrong," Bland said.