American Goes Missing While Shark Diving


John Petty


Tribune Freeport Reporter


A MASSIVE search and rescue operation is underway in waters off Grand Bahama for an American doctor who has been missing since Sunday while shark diving off West End.

Bahamian authorities have joined US Coast Guard officials in the search for John E Petty, 63, of Longview, Texas. He was with eight others on a commercial shark diving venture north west of West End when he failed to resurface, the captain of the vessel Shear Water told Coast Guard officials.

Michael Malone, director of Search and Rescue at Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) in Grand Bahama, said rescue crews were still out looking for the missing diver yesterday evening.

The US Coast Guard has deployed a C-130 aircraft and MH60 helicopter to conduct an aerial search of the area. A US Coast Guard cutter is also being assisted by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marine Patrol Unit.

Mr Malone said BASRA is unable to assist in the search because their vessel is down, but are assisting in other ways.

Grand Bahama Police officials were notified of the incident on Monday and immediately dispatched a patrol unit to assist. Inspector Terecita Pinder said last night they were informed that a crew of American divers were scuba diving shortly after 4.30pm on Sunday in the area of Memory Rock, four miles north of West End, when one of the passengers went missing.

Up until 5pm yesterday, Petty had still not been located although it was reported in a Texas newspaper that diving gear had been found. According to news-journal.com in Longview, Dr Petty is a local chiropractor and rancher known for award-winning photography often done on high-adventure trips around the world.

Mr Petty has been a consistent winner at the annual Texas Bank and Trust photography contest and was on vacation when he disappeared.

Petty is a native of Gilmer who has lived and practiced chiropractic medicine in Longview for 39 years. He ranches in Gregg and Upshur counties.

The search continued for him on Monday night, with Coast Guard crews from Miami and Clearwater, Florida, employing a cutter, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

The newspaper reported that Coast Guard Petty officer Mark Barney reported that dive gear had been found yesterday afternoon during the search, but was not sure if the mask belonged to Dr Petty.

Mr Barney, an officer in the US Coast Guard public information office in Florida, told news-journal.com that the search is ongoing and that there is no policy for how long searches last as each case is different.

“We’re still standing by for any details,” he told the newspaper. “We have air assets and surface assets currently searching for him. Wherever the current’s going, they create a pattern, a grid pattern. The air search is similar, but it’s more broad. They pretty much do the same thing - they go back and forth.”


John 5 years, 1 month ago

American goes missing after SHARK diving. Any questions?


Ben 5 years, 1 month ago

Abernethy and Shearwater has come under fire from the dive community in the past for promoting dangerous dives with shark species known to pose a threat to humans. Tiger sharks account for a large percentage of the relatively small number of shark attacks on people each year. Abernethy lost a diver to a shark attack in 2008 and has himself been bitten.


John 5 years, 1 month ago

Any fisherman can tell you that sharks become overly aggressive during the summer months. Since they are no longer allowed to kill them the shark population has increased and sometimes one can spend a whole day trying to avoid them as they follow the fishing boats waiting for easy prey. They can eat a 4 foot grouper in a matter of seconds.


proudloudandfnm 5 years, 1 month ago

Seriously doubt it was a shark attack. There would have been some evidence of it. He probably had a heart attack or something under water... Weights may be keeping him under and the tide is moving him out....


voltairehumor 5 years, 1 month ago

probably drowned, heart attack, etc. then a shark ate the body. RIP


captjohnr3 2 years, 7 months ago

'I think feeding wildlife is ridiculous.. only irrational folks that would lead you to believe Sharks are the only animal on the planet not influenced by food' ~ Shark Detective John Russell http://bit.ly/sharkdetective">http://bit.ly/sharkdetective

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by captjohnr3


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