Friends who perished diving for abalone off Mendocino identified

Men from Georgia, New Jersey among 3 dead in abalone diving tragedy

The names of two of the three men who died while diving for abalone off the rocky coast of Mendocino County were released Monday, one day after the tragic incident, authorities said.

Found dead in the choppy surf near Caspar Anchorage Bay were 49-year-old Tae Won Oh of Dublin, Calif., and 49-year-old Hyun Kook Shin of Suwanee, Georgia, according to the Mendocino County sheriff’s office.

The name of the third diver was not released, but officials said he is a 53-year-old man from Fort Lee, New Jersey.

The trio were among a group of 10 friends from the Bay Area and other parts of the country who were renting a vacation home in Caspar Beach, said Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Sally Swan.

Five members of the group went diving Sunday afternoon for abalone – an increasingly rare mollusk that’s considered a delicacy – but after entering the water in the southern part of Caspar Anchorage Bay, they became caught in a narrow channel between two rocky outcrops, sheriff’s officials said

"This is a treacherous area on some days, and today the conditions were just very dynamic," Swan said, noting that the surf near the cove's beach can be violent.

A fisherman saw the divers in peril and contacted authorities about 2:45 p.m., prompting several agencies to respond including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department.

Two divers were rescued and taken to the shore where they were treated and released.

Two others were found motionless in the water, officials said. Medical personnel administered CPR to both, but they were unable to be revived.

A fifth diver was missing for more than four hours, and his body was recovered in a small cove near Caspar Beach. Because of the remote area, his body was hoisted up a 50-foot cliff by volunteer firefighters, Swan said.

The identity of the third diver who died will be released pending notification of his family, officials said.

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