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Two more divers killed at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Second and third deaths at 'super pond' in less than a month

By Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun

11:56 PM EST, February 26, 2013

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Two Navy divers died in the Super Pond at Aberdeen Proving Ground on Tuesday, less than a month after the death of another diver at the same location.

Officials at the Army base in Harford County released few details late Tuesday about the incident, which occurred about 2:30 p.m. at the Unexploded Ordnance Range pond. The man-made body of water is also known as the Super Pond.

A Navy spokesman said the families of the sailors had been notified, but officials were withholding their names for 24 hours in accordance with Navy policy. Lt. Nathan C. Potter, the spokesman said the victims were in the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit.

Base rescue workers called to the Super Pond arrived to find one of the individuals dead, base spokesman Kelly Luster said. The other was taken to a local medical facility and pronounced dead.

A Harford County emergency response source said the divers were in cardiac arrest when they surfaced and had been working in the pond on air hoses, not self-contained breathing units, and were tethered to each other.

The two divers were from Joint Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va., the Associated Press reported.

The incident came less than a month after the death of a diver at the Super Pond.

George H. Lazzaro Jr., an engineering technician in the Firepower Directorate of the Aberdeen Test Center, died Jan. 30 while doing routine maintenance on the test infrastructure.

Lazzaro, 41, lived in Nottingham. Luster said Tuesday that his death remains under investigation. He said the death last month and the two deaths Tuesday were not related.

The Underwater Test Facility, better known as the Super Pond, is a 1,070-foot-long, 150-foot-deep pond carved out of the bank of the Bush River to allow the Army to conduct shock tests of ships, boats and submarines for the Defense Department, academic researchers and private businesses.

The facility has been used for testing since 1995.

After Lazzaro's death, Aberdeen Test Center commander Col. Gordon L. Graham ordered a "safety stand down" to allow test center personnel to review operating procedures and processes and discuss best practices. That was in addition to regular monthly reviews.

No area dive teams were called to the base on Tuesday to assist in any rescue or recovery operations, Harford emergency officials said. The volunteer Aberdeen Fire Department did, however, send a unit to the installation to provide backup for the proving ground fire department.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit Two is investigating the incident Tuesday, Potter said.

The Aegis contributed to this article.

cwells@baltsun.com

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