Body Of Missing Diver Found In Putnam

The body of a scuba diver who went missing at a Putnam County mine has been recovered, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's office.

Tilly Foster Mine.
Tilly Foster Mine. Photo Credit: Google Maps

Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith said that his department began its search Sunday afternoon when a man was reported missing after going diving at the Tilly Foster Mine — also known as Simon’s Quarry — in Southeast.

Smith said that Jersey City, N.J., resident Robert Thomas, 48, who has been described as “a very experienced technical diver who has gone diving in the mine many times in the past.” At approximately noon Sunday, Thomas went diving at the mine, Smith said. An hour later, a man who was with him dove in, with a third woman remaining on the surface.

Police said that the second male diver surfaced at around 3 p.m. Sunday, but Thomas never emerged from the water. The Sheriff’s Office received a telephone call from Thomas’ girlfriend in Queens an hour later, saying he was overdue for a party at her house, prompting a welfare check by deputies at the time.

Thomas' body was recovered shortly before 1 p.m. Monday with an assist from the New York State Police dive team, which used "sophisticated sonar and camera equipment" to track down the body, which was at a depth of 171 feet. Once the body was found, a cable was lowered from the surface, attached to Thomas' body and lifted out of the water.

According to Smith, it is believed that Thomas may have become entangled in wires or cables on the bottom of the flooded mine shaft, which is filled with water ranging in depths from 175 to 600 feet. It is filled with wrecked cars, trucks, oil mining equipment and other debris, Smith said.

During the patrol of the mine, a sheriff’s deputy found Thomas’ other divers, who said that he was late in surfacing from the dive, given his air supply. 

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