Man diving for sea cucumbers near Kodiak dies after medical airlift

A Kodiak man working as a commercial diver aboard a vessel taking part in a sea cucumber fishery near Kodiak suffered a medical emergency and was airlifted to an area hospital Sunday, but Alaska State Troopers say he couldn't be resuscitated.

An initial call about the incident came in to Kodiak troopers at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, after a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew flew 36-year-old Gary Graves to Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center's emergency room.

Graves had been diving from the fishing vessel Momo & Maddie. Troopers said the vessel was participating in the state sea cucumber commercial dive fishery near Port Hobron, about 6 miles from Old Harbor.

Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said Graves was alive when the first call came in.

"He was diving at the time," Ipsen said. "They were still working on him when troopers got the call."

Graves was declared dead at about 2 p.m. Sunday. Ipsen said troopers were investigating, but the focus of their work wasn't specified.

"Until it's determined if it's mechanical reasons or health issues, it's impossible to say," Ipsen said.


Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer 3rd Class Meredith Manning said Wednesday that she couldn't discuss details of the incident or the rescue flight because the Coast Guard has opened a marine casualty investigation into Graves' death.

The state medical examiner's office has requested Graves' body for an autopsy. Troopers said Graves' next of kin have been notified of his death.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.