A diver vanished in the Pacific two years ago. His body may have been found in underwater cave

Sheriff officials stand on a boat near Santa Cruz Island
Sheriff’s officials retrieved a body in an underwater cave system on Santa Cruz Island in Santa Barbara County on Nov. 11. The body is believed to be that of a scuba diver who went missing in 2020.
(Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)
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A body recovered from an underwater cave system on Santa Cruz Island on Friday is believed to be that of a scuba diver who had been missing for two years, officials said.

The body was discovered Nov. 5 by two recreational divers swimming near the island off the Santa Barbara County coast, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. The divers spotted the body near the ocean floor in an underwater cave near Painted Cave Preserve, off the northwest side of the island.

It was the same area local officials and the U.S. Coast Guard searched unsuccessfully for 31-year-old Ryder Sturt of Ventura, who went missing Nov. 29, 2020, after he and a partner went diving for lobsters.


Jerry Nehl Boylan, 68, was released on bond, authorities said. He faces a charge known as seaman’s manslaughter, accused of gross negligence in the 2019 fire that killed 34 people.

Nov. 11, 2022

When the dive partner surfaced near the 20-foot boat they used, Sturt did not, officials said.

Sheriff’s officials said Sturt’s partner radioed for help, prompting an extended search in the water and air for the missing diver.

On Friday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s officials, along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Marine Enforcement Unit and the National Park Service, launched a recovery operation to retrieve the body.

Santa Barbara sheriff’s officials said they plan to use rapid DNA to confirm if the body is Sturt’s. The results are expected next week, officials said in the statement.