Diver's Body Recovered Off Mission Beach

The woman -- a Camp Pendleton Marine -- went missing Saturday during a group dive near the USS Yukon shipwreck

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The body of a woman who went missing during a group dive in Mission Beach Saturday was discovered by lifeguard divers underwater. NBC 7's Lea Sutton reports. (Published Sunday, Dec 2, 2012)

    A rescue team recovered the body of a woman who was reported missing during a dive at a popular shipwreck site off Mission Beach on Saturday.

    The diver, described by lifeguards as a woman in her 20s, went missing Saturday afternoon during a group dive near the HMCS Yukon shipwreck site, which is about 1 mile off the shores of Mission Beach.

    Lifeguard divers spent Saturday afternoon searching the water while U.S. Coast Guard crews assisted by helicopter. Officials confirmed they found the diver's body at 5 p.m. Saturday, but due to low visibility due to the sun setting and a high tide and big swell conditions, divers had to call off the recovery for the night.

    The recovery effort resumed at dawn Sunday.

    The woman was diving with three others near the USS Yukon shipwreck diving site, a popular spot since the retired ship was sunk in 2000. The site is about 100 feet below the surface.

    "It's a tragic event," said Lt. John Everhart, a lifeguard for the San Diego city Lifeguard Service. "Our hearts go out to the family, the people that were on board the boat with her."

    Officials found her body in an opening underneath the ship. They did not elaborate on their protocol for calling off a search upon discovering a body.

    Lifeguards said they believe the death was an accident, but an official ruling will be made after an autopsy by the Medical Examiner's Office.

    Lerum said the woman's diving partner had attempted to bring her to the surface Saturday, but was unsuccessful. In the process, the diving partner surfaced quickly, which lifeguards said also turned into a medical emergency.

    The partner was transported to UCSD Medical Center and was recovering Sunday, Lerum said.

    The woman was not officially identified but her family said she was Staci Jackson, 26, a Marine from Camp Pendleton who was raised in Philadelphia.

    "She was a great person. Outgoing, great, cool kid. She enjoyed life,” said her uncle, Harold Jackson."She will be missed a lot."

    The death comes during a weekend of high surf and dangerous rip currents.

    The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory through 1 p.m. Monday. Officials in San Diego closed the Ocean Beach Pier on Saturday for several hours due to high surf conditions.

    Lifeguards said the dive to the USS Yukon shipwreck site is a challenging one - especially on a day like Saturday with choppy water, high surf, and low visibility.

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