SCUBA diver dies while trying to recover sunken machinery in St. Louis County

Scuba Tanks (Photo by © Todd Gipstein/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

A 50-year-old man from Embarrass, Minnesota, died while SCUBA diving to recover sunken machinery in Crane Lake, outside of Voyageurs National Park, on Sunday afternoon. 

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office says at about 12:13 p.m. on June 30, it learned of a water emergency on Crane Lake.  

The man, who hasn't yet been identified, was trained as a SCUBA diver. He was helping a group recover "a piece of sunken machinery" in about 70 feet of water. The sheriff's office notes he was not affiliated with or working for a salvage company at the time of the incident.

"The equipment recovery operation was based off of a barge that was going to be used to transport the sunken equipment back to shore," the sheriff's office said. 

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While trying to recover the machinery, the man had been underwater for "a period of time" and failed to resurface. 

Those on the scene and first responders worked to rescue the diver, who was eventually brought to shore. However, he was pronounced dead. 

The sheriff's office is investigating the incident and the man's cause of death.

As of June 13, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says there have been five boating fatalities and nine non-boating drownings so far this year. In 2023, there were nine boating fatalities and 48 non-boating drownings in Minnesota.