Friday, October 1, 2010

Writer's Police Academy: Underwater Recovery

This was fascinating to me. I suppose it might have something to do with all of the "Lake" movies I've watched over the years where bodies were stowed underwater.

The thing is, most of the Underwater Recovery Team's time is spent recovering evidence—weapons, stolen property and things along those lines. Not so much bodies.

But, if you are writing about a body in the depths, here are some interesting bits:

Prior to body recovery, photos are taken and as much area as possible is processed for evidence.

The bag (pictured) used to recover the body is easily 6+" long and about 4" wide. It is bright yellow with bright blue straps. It comes in five pieces.

There are at least two divers involved in a recovery. One is literally the mule who carries all of the equipment down. The other diver is responsible for making sure the body is kept as intact as possible, and knows exactly what needs to happen first, second, third, etc., in terms of securing it within the body bag.

A pony bottle (pictured in the foreground) holds about 19 cubic feet of air and is used to fill the bag with enough air to slowly float the body to the surface. The divers are with it as it rises.

This is just a sampling of what Underwater Recovery had to offer, so I would encourage any of you to dig a little deeper if you need to. Contact your local unit, or consider attending the next Writer's Police Academy.

CR: Breathing Water by Timothy Hallinan on my Kindle.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I'm so glad you're sharing these classes with us, Peg. The details - like the bottle of air and the five-piece bag - will come in handy if I decide to include a water death in my next mystery. Thank you!

  2. Glad you're getting some details that might come in handy later. I love 'em myself.

  3. Fascinating. I spent so much time with the Hazardous Devices Technician, I never made it to underwater recovery. Darn it. I'll just have to go next year, won't I. Lee Lofland says they started planning for next year on Sunday. They're thinking about having a helicopter on site . . .