A 67-year old abalone diver visiting from Texas died Tuesday morning while freediving in Tomales Bay, Marin County. The man was identified as Gerald McGuire of El Paso.
McGuire and four other divers reportedly launched a boat from the east side of Tomales Bay around 8:00am on Tuesday. They crossed over to the west side, then got out of the boat and began their dives. One of the swimmers looked back and saw that McGuire was floating listlessly in the water. The divers dragged him onto shore, called 911 and began resuscitation efforts.
A county fire crew was dispatched, and they intercepted them on the bay in a boat and took McGuire aboard the fire boat to continue resuscitation attempts. McGuire was pronounced dead after the fire crew brought him on shore. It appears McGuire fell unconscious before he started diving for abalone, but the circumstances are under investigation.
The death was the latest fatality in a series along the Marin coast in recent months. A Tomales Bay kayaker drowned in March, and four members of a fishing party capsized near Tomales Point in April. It is also the sixth abalone-related diver death since the season opened on April 1 on California’s north coast.
On April 12, three men drowned during a diving trip off Casper Cove in Mendocino County. Joel Falcon from El Cerrito died ab diving off Sonoma County on April 21, and another man abalone diving off the Sonoma coast died on May 24. Additionally, one abalone rock picker (not diving) has also tragically died.
On May 24, a scuba diver died in Salt Point State Park on the Sonoma County coast while scuba diving. Prior to that, three divers died in Mendocino county while ab diving, and several others in Sonoma and Mendocino counties have required life-saving rescues.
Divers are reminded that abalone diving is very strenuous and requires specialized knowledge and training to do safely. It is extremely physically exerting, so being very fit in also a prerequisite. Please contact your local dive center for specialized training and understand your limitations as a diver before attempting to abalone dive on California’s north coast.
To view a google map of the Tomales Bay region, please click here.
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Editor’s note: Most dive magazines and related publications do not report fatalities, however we feel that in certain cases it’s important to share these incidents as a way to help other divers make better decisions and stay safer in the water. We would of course prefer that there are no dive accidents or fatalities, however we can learn to be better safer divers ourselves if we learn and understand what took place with these divers in questions. If you have any feedback on our approach to this, please share in the comments below or drop us an email at email@example.com. Thanks.