Seattle diver dies while working from gold dredge near Nome

Tegan Hanlon

A 39-year-old diver from Seattle died while working on a gold dredge Tuesday off the coast of Nome, said the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Alaska State Troopers identified the diver as Sean Beals. Troopers said Beals was operating off the dredge Argo, a 50-foot-landing craft.  

An Argo crew member monitoring the dive Tuesday saw Beals' body floating facedown in the water around 10:30 p.m., troopers said. The crew member alerted another crew member and tried to save Beals. He was unresponsive, said Megan Peters, troopers spokeswoman. 

Beals was taken to Norton Sound Medical Center in Nome, where he was pronounced dead, troopers said.

Peters said Beals’ body is being sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

“We have to have the autopsy,” she said. “We don’t know if he maybe had a medical emergency or an equipment malfunction.”

Troopers do not suspect foul play. 

The Argo is one of many dredging boats working Nome waters in an offshore gold rush prompted by high commodities prices and strengthened by the Discovery Channel reality series “Bering Sea Gold” that documents some of the dredge crews.