March 19, 2007 4:48 pm US/Pacific
Coast Guard Searches For Missing Bay Area Diver
(BCN) The U.S. Coast Guard Monday expanded its search for a Bay Area diver and underwater photographer who has been missing for two days.
Kawika Chetron, 35, set out alone on his 17-foot Boston Whaler at 11 a.m. Saturday from Eureka on a planned round-trip to Cape Mendocino, Coast Guard Lt. Stephen Baxter said.
Chetron was expected to return Saturday night but never arrived.
"He told a Good Samaritan where he was going and when he was coming back. A lot of people don't have the smarts to let people know," Baxter said.
The acquaintance notified Coast Guard personnel, who located Chetron's vessel just west of Cape Mendocino with no sign of Chetron either on board or nearby.
The Coast Guard has been searching by air and plane since Saturday night. Today, search and rescue units scoured the coastline from Cape Mendocino to Fort Bragg, Baxter said.
The search includes a fixed wing aircraft from Air Station Sacramento, HH-65 Dolphin helicopters from air stations San Francisco and Humboldt Bay; a 378-foot High Endurance Cutter from San Diego, as well as a patrol boat and life boats.
Rescue crews are hopeful that Chetron's preparation and experience are helping him survive the 55-degree water, Baxter said.
Chetron was wearing a dry suit with a double liner to protect him from the elements.
"It's not like water temperature and air temperature are going to hinder him. He's a super experienced diver and all of his gear is up to speed," Baxter said.
Chetron runs the San Francisco-based Coldwaterimages.com, an underwater photography Web site. The site includes images from his dives along the California Coast, British Columbia, Papua New Guinea and Hawaii.
According to the Web site, Chetron was born in San Anselmo and has spent much of his life there. He attended engineering school at Harvard and Stanford and began photographing his dives in 2004.
Edited by herbko, 20 March 2007 - 09:00 AM.