Water rescue team dives for sunken motorboat | SummitDaily.com

Water rescue team dives for sunken motorboat

SUMMIT COUNTY – Though the mystery of the sunken motorboat in Dillon Reservoir has been solved, Summit County Water Rescue Team (SCWRT) is still poking around the wreck.

Sunday, six divers from the team dove 40 to 45 feet to the motorboat to practice rigging, de-rigging and underwater investigation.

The boat sank Sept. 25, 1983. It was discovered when sailor Kent Robinson reported a waterski handle he couldn’t pull out of the water Aug. 4. After the sheriff’s marina boat failed to pull the rope up, SCWRT team leader Cris Bezinque and fellow diver Don Johnson dove 48 feet and found the sunken motor boat. Since then, Bezinque and officials from the state parks and recreation department have tracked down the owner, Lakewood resident Mark Spande, who granted the team permission to use the boat for training dives.

Andy Bystrom joined the team in March, and Sunday’s practice run was his deepest high-altitude dive. He and Jim Eldridge dove down to the bow to remove rigging Bezinque and Johnson had secured the previous weekend during a practice dive.

Jeff Barnhardt hooked lift bags onto the motor, which broke loose when the boat sank, and lifted it into the hull of the boat. Barnhardt also was looking for a trolling motor the owner said had been attached to the boat, as well as any other debris outside of the boat, but he found only the main motor.

After the first three divers emerged, Bezinque, Tom Wagenlander and Cody Pratt dove to practice underwater investigation.

Visibility was less than 1 foot in the murky water, and the water temperature was 58 to 59 degrees at the bottom, 63 degrees at the surface. Because of the elevation, divers’ maximum bottom time was 40 minutes, but to be safe, they maintained a 30-minute bottom time.

Typically, the sunken boat sits in 90 to 100 feet of water, so even if the SCWRT had known about it, divers would not have been able to reach it in a normal year because they cannot dive past 80 feet at the lake’s nearly 10,000-foot elevation.

Because of cost, neither Denver Water nor the owner plans to remove the boat from the lake. The SCWRT doesn’t plan to move the boat to more shallow water, because they will be able to access it throughout the year.

“We’ll practice investigation, rigging and de-rigging and run sonar,” Bezinque said. “(It) gives us something to look at besides rocks and mud.”

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

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