ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (WJZ) — Sailors in the US Navy swear to serve with honor, courage and commitment. Those words are certainly true for a young Navy diver who lost his life during a training exercise at the Aberdeen Proving Ground last year.
Mary Bubala reports a new report details how he refused to leave the side of a fellow diver in distress.
In February of last year, things went terribly wrong at the bottom of the superpond at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Two young Navy divers were on a routine training exercise but James Rehyer and Ryan Harris never made it back to the surface alive.
Now, a new report that reconstructed the accident reveals Harris drowned refusing to leave his fellow sailor who was tangled in debris at the bottom of the pond.
“Harris exhausted himself in an attempt to save Reyher,” says the military report obtained by the Virginian Pilot newspaper. “Both divers resisted the natural instincts of self-preservation in order to expel his last breaths in an effort to save each other.”
Investigators say Harris remained at Rehyer’s side, struggling to free him until they both lost air in their oxygen tanks.
His heroism is now being honored. The Navy will posthumously award Harris the Navy and Marine Corp Medal.
Harris was only 23 when he died. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Since the tragedy at Aberdeen Proving Ground, five personnel have been disciplined and the commanding officer of the unit was removed from his job.
A month before the deaths of the Navy divers, a civilian employee also died in the superpond doing maintenance work.