Photo courtesy of fundraising site.
Long Beach public safety divers on Thursday assisted Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s efforts in finding a scuba diver who went missing near Santa Catalina Island nearly three weeks ago and has yet to be found.
The Long Beach public safety dive team, made up of 11 divers from the city’s police and fire departments, were called on by the LASD’s Special Enforcement Bureau, rounding out a group of 30 multi-agency divers who searched the waters during the daylight hours, said Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) Lt. Eric Ledesma of the Port Police Division.
Ledesma could not say how deep the divers went but did say that the victim was diving in 80 feet of water.
Orange County resident Laurel L. Silver-Valkera went missing on Tuesday, December 29 during a morning dive near Ship Rock in the Isthmus Harbor with other divers from the Long Beach-based Sundiver Express dive boat company.
Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach Command Center received a report at about noon from Sundiver Express of a missing female diver near Ship Rock, according to a release from the USCG.
The Coast Guard then sent out patrol boats and a helicopter and received additional support from the sheriff’s department and Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), according to the USCG release.
The 45-year-old woman was reportedly an experienced diver but was diving without a dive buddy, according to a release from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The family of the victim has set up a crowdfunding site aimed to pay for a memorial. So far $8,561 of the $10,000 asked for has been raised.
Silver-Valkera is the mother of two boys, a grandmother, fiance and the oldest sister of six, according to her sister Valerie Silver.
“Laurel was on permanent disability and had limited income over the last several years and did not have anything set aside for an event such as this, which came decades too soon,” Silver stated. “We believe our Laurel is at rest in the place she loved most, being a mermaid in the sea.”
Photo courtesy of Silver-Valkera's Facebook page.