Santa Barbara, Calif. – The Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau is investigating the death of a diver who was recovered from the waters near Painted Cave Preserve on Santa Cruz Island. The location of the recovery corresponds to a missing diver investigation from 2020, however the final determination of the decedent’s identity requires a Coroner’s investigation.
On Saturday, November 5, 2022, the Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible decedent observed near the ocean floor in an underwater cave system by two recreational divers. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Underwater Search and Recovery Team began planning for a recovery operation in the area and reached out to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Marine Enforcement Unit, and the National Park Service for assistance.
On Friday, November 11, 2022, the Sheriff’s Office and allied agency divers responded to the area of Seal Cove where they successfully recovered the remains of a diver from the underwater cave. The decedent was transported to the Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau for further investigation and identification determination. Coroner’s detectives plan on utilizing rapid DNA to confirm the identity of the decedent with anticipate completion next week. The Sheriff’s Office will share the decedent’s identity when it is confirmed, and the next-of-kin have been notified.