Judge May Hold 2 Navy Leaders Criminally Responsible For Super Pond Drowning Deaths

ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ)—A military judge is investigating the deaths of two divers at Aberdeen Proving Ground and whether two officers should be charged criminally for the tragedies.

Mike Hellgren stays on the case with what’s happening right now.

This is an article 32 hearing. It’s like a grand jury. A judge could decide whether two officers–who have not yet been named–will face a court martial for their role in the drownings.  These are serious possible charges.

What happened to two divers at the massive Super Pond at Aberdeen Proving Ground is at the heart of a military hearing being held Wednesday.

James Reyher and Ryan Harris died during a training exercise in laste February.

They were based in Virginia and that’s where that hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury, will provide new details on the tragedy.

Sources say two officers could be charged with dereliction of duty and involuntary manslaughter in connection to their deaths.

The military has not released details on exactly what happened. Sources tell WJZ the divers were 60 feet into the water in constant contact with the surface. They went into cardiac arrest.

The Medical Examiner in Baltimore ruled their deaths accidental drownings.

The Navy already relieved the commander of their elite unit because, they say, of “loss of confidence.”

The Baltimore City Fire Department’s dive team, which is not connected with the case, recently told WJZ this kind of case prompts a thorough review of procedures.

“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,” said Jeff Dickinson, Baltimore County Fire Department Dive Team, in a May interview.

The Super Pond is a staggering 1000 feet long and 150 feet deep.

And the deaths of Reyher and Harris are not the only two there this year.

In January, former Marine George Lazzaro Jr. died while performing maintenance in the Super Pond.

The military stresses his death is unrelated to the other two.

The judge could also decide to dismiss the charges against these officers.

Reyher was 28-years-old and from Ohio.  Harris was 23 and from Missouri.

Stay with WJZ and CBSBaltimore.com for updates on this developing story.

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