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APG briefed on probe of first diver death at Super Pond

U.S. ArmyU.S. NavyAberdeen Proving Ground

Aberdeen Proving Ground officials have received a preliminary briefing on the investigation into the first of three diver deaths at the post's Super Pond test facility in the last two months.

A final report on the death of George Lazzaro, 41, should be available to APG within 120 days, Mike Negard, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, said Thursday.

The center, based at Fort Rucker, Ala., is the agency responsible for investigating accidental personnel deaths and major property damage, Negard said. It has been handling the investigation into Mr. Lazzaro's death.

Because the information provided APG officials is preliminary, nothing can be released to the public at this time, Negard said.

"The final report will be routed back to the [APG] unit within the next 120 days for their review and endorsement, and returned to us at the USACRC," Negard said.

Mr. Lazzaro was an engineering technician, who worked in the Firepower Directorate, part of APG's Aberdeen Test Center.

According to the Army, he died Jan. 30 while "completing routine underwater test infrastructure maintenance" in the Super Pond, officially known as the UNDEX (Underwater Explosion) Test Facility.

The Super Pond is a 150-foot-deep aquatic facility near Bush River designed for shock testing of marine vessels. The pond went into use in 1995.

Two Navy divers who were doing routine maneuvers in the pond died on Feb. 26. Their deaths are being investigated by the Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2.

Maj. Gen. Genaro J. Dellarocco, chief of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, ordered the pond closed pending the investigation into the three deaths.

"It was one of the safest facilities we had on the installation," Dellarocco told The Baltimore Sun in a recent interview.

Kelly Luster, public affairs chief for APG's U.S. Army Garrison, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Navy divers memorial

The U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 held a memorial service in Virginia Thursday for the two Navy divers who died at APG.

The ceremony, held at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story, honored Navy Diver 1st Class James Reyher, 28, of Caldwell, Ohio, and Navy Diver 2nd Class Ryan Harris, 23, of Gladstone, Mo.

Cmdr. Michael Runkle, commanding officer, MDSU 2, spoke of the challenges Navy divers face and offered words of comfort to the crowd of more than 400 service members, civilians, families and friends, according to a news release from MDSU 2.

"We come together to honor ND1 James Reyher and ND2 Ryan Harris, two extraordinary men who made the ultimate sacrifice serving as Navy divers," Runkle said. "These heroes and those like them understand and accepted dangers, not for fame or fortune, but for their friends, for their families and for their country."

The memorial included remembrances and sea stories of Reyher and Harris from fellow Navy divers and concluded with the playing of taps.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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U.S. ArmyU.S. NavyAberdeen Proving Ground
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