By the edhat staff
The body found near Santa Cruz Island last month has been identified as a Port Hueneme diver missing for two years.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau reported the body of a diver was recovered from the waters near the Painted Cave Preserve in the Channel Islands on November 11. The location of the recovery matched to a missing diver investigation from 2020 but further analysis was needed to confirm the identity.
About a week earlier, two recreational divers observed a possible body near the ocean floor in an underwater cave system and alerted the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s 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.
Crews responded to the area of Seal Cove where they successfully recovered the remains of the diver from the underwater cave.
Rescue teams recovering body of missing diver on November 11, 2022 (Photo: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)
Rapid DNA was used to confirm the identity of the diver and on Wednesday it was confirmed to be 34-year-old Ryder Sturt of Port Hueneme who was reported missing on November 29, 2020.
Sturt and a dive partner had been tank diving for lobster off of a 20-foot recreational boat in the area of the Painted Cave Preserve off Santa Cruz Island. The dive partner radioed for help when Sturt did not surface.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Narwal responded to the request for assistance and searched the waters off Santa Cruz Island overnight while FOB Mug searched from the air, the Sheriff’s Office reported in 2020.
The next day the Coast Guard continued their search with additional vessel and air resources including Santa Barbara County Air Support Copter 964 on its first operational mission. Copter 964 conducted an aerial search for Sturt and provided medical support for the search divers.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Underwater Search and Recovery Team searched the waters for approximately three hours, but were unable to locate Sturt. At approximately 5:00 p.m., rescue efforts were suspended and command was transferred to the Sheriff’s Office for search and recovery. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dive Team, Los Angeles Port Police, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team assisted in the search.
November 30, 2020: Sheriff’s Office Searches for Missing Diver
November 14, 2022: Body of Diver Recovered Near Santa Cruz Island