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2 Navy Leaders Face Charges In Drowning Deaths Of 2 Divers

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Navy deaths, James Reyher, Ryan Harris

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Two senior Navy diving leaders face criminal manslaughter charges in the deaths of two divers at the Aberdeen Proving Ground “Super Pond.” The divers drowned in a training exercise just weeks after another diving death at Aberdeen.

Kai Jackson has more on the consequences for their supervisors.

As these Navy commanders face charges, a local diving expert examines things that will likely be critical in the investigation.

It’s called the “Super Pond,” a secretive military underwater testing site at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. Since January, three divers doing work in the pond have died.

“I know it’s a great depth. I know it’s quite a bit of military testing that goes on there,” said Jeff Dickinson, BCFD Dive Team.

Now two senior enlisted leaders with an elite Navy dive unit are facing charges. It’s in connection to the Feb. 26 diving deaths of 28-year-old Diver First Class James Rehyer and 23-year-old Diver Second Class Ryan Harris. The state medical examiner ruled their deaths were an accident.

The Baltimore City Fire Department dive team says this kind of case prompts a major review.

“We had a member that was injured some time ago, but the Fire Department took it very, very seriously. Our chief ordered a complete investigation. The team was actually shut down for a period of time,” Dickinson said.

Divers with the Baltimore City Fire Department aren’t privy to details of the investigation at the “Super Pond” at Aberdeen Proving Ground but say typically an inquiry would include looking at the health of the divers, whether safety protocols were followed and even equipment maintenance.

The February incident marked three deaths at the “Super Pond” this year. The first person who died was civilian and former Marine, 41-year-old George Lazzaro Jr., who was performing maintenance in the pond.

“This is the second accident in a couple weeks there, so obviously there was something going wrong and the Navy is looking to make sure it stops,” said defense attorney Joseph Owens.

The Navy says the death in January and the two deaths in February were not related.

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