Experienced Scuba Diver Goes Missing Near Northern Westchester Border

Earlier report:

Tilly Foster Mine
Tilly Foster Mine Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

A search is underway for a 48-year-old man who went missing Sunday while scuba diving in Putnam County.

Robert Thomas of Jersey City, New Jersey, went diving Sunday afternoon in waters at the site of the former Tilly Foster Mine (also sometimes referred to as Simon’s Quarry), located off Old Mine Road in the Town of Southeast, Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith said. Thomas is described as a very experienced technical diver who has gone diving in the mine many times in the past, according to Smith.

Thomas, who was at the mine with two diving colleagues - a male and a female - dove into the water at about noon, and the other man went in about an hour later, Smith said. The woman remained on the surface. The other male diver surfaced at about 3 p.m., but Thomas did not emerge.

At around 3:50 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office received a telephone call from Thomas’ girlfriend in Queens, who reported that Thomas had gone diving at the mine and was overdue for a party at her house, Smith said. She requested that the Sheriff’s Office check on his welfare. A sheriff’s deputy patrolled to the mine and located Thomas’ colleagues, who apprised the deputy that Thomas was late in surfacing from his dive, given his air supply.

The Sheriff’s Office called for assistance of dive teams from the New York State Police and the Brewster and Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Departments to search for Thomas. The Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services and the Brewster Volunteer Ambulance Corps also responded to the scene.

The search for Thomas is continuing, with dive teams using sophisticated sonar equipment to aid in probing the mine.

The area being searched is large, with the mine shafts having underwater depths ranging from about 175 to 600 feet and several side tunnels branching off.

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