[UPDATE, June 27]: The U.S. Coast Guard discovered Martinez’s body late Tuesday afternoon on a Santa Cruz Island beach. There are no signs of foul play. “The Coroner’s Bureau,” said Sugars, “with the assistance of the [Coast Guard], will conduct an investigation into the cause and manner of death. A final report is not expected for several weeks.”
[ORIGINAL REPORT]: A search began Monday for a Andres Martinez, a 64-year old Santa Barbara man who failed to surface while diving for sea urchins off the Channel Islands.
At around 10:30 a.m. Monday morning, reported Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars, Martinez and two other men traveled on Martinez’s boat to an area about 300 yards off Santa Cruz Island, a notoriously shark-y area. They dove to a depth of 25 feet, but Martinez didn’t resurface when the pair did 90 minutes later.
According to Sugars, Martinez and his dive partners were attached to a single air tank on the surface, each connected to it by what are called “hookah lines.” The three had originally set out from Santa Barbara Harbor.
The two men started looking for Martinez and called rescuers, said Sugars. Soon after, divers with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office found Martinez’s weight belt and other items at the bottom of the dive location. A U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat and a helicopter with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office joined the effort Monday, but did not locate Martinez.
Divers were scheduled to head out again Tuesday, but weather conditions in the Santa Barbara Channel have put the rescue on hold until Wednesday.