80 FEET DOWN - Divers survey sunken boat for pollutants
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 07/2/06
BY MARGARET F. BONAFIDETOMS RIVER BUREAU
POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Divers visited the Alex Mac on the ocean floor a third time to survey damage and prevent the engine from leaking pollutants.
A 16-year-old boy and his 39-year-old uncle died Thursday after the vessel sank about 8 p.m. following an incident involving a tugboat towing a barge with a cable.
Members of the Point Pleasant Beach Dive Team, under the direction of chief diver Chet Nesley, 53, of Dover Township, on Saturday visited the wreckage, which was 80-feet down. Nesley and Brandon Cadalzo, 26, of Point Pleasant, dove to the wreckage of the Alex Mac at the request from the Coast Guard and the insurance company that was insuring the boat and "to do a hull survey and plug the vents on the fuel tanks so there would be no pollution," Nesley said. "There was quite a bit of damage below the water line of the boat."
A tugboat called authorities to report a problem at sea Thursday and Tom Hurst, owner of Tow Boat US, which regularly donates its services in rescue operations, called Nesley and his crew at first word of the incident, Nesley said.
The party boat, the Gambler, rescued two crew members who were on a piece of wreckage from the boat. Nesley said they had hoped Thursday night when they first got to the wreckage that the two fishermen inside could be alive in an air pocket. Once he saw the severe damage to the hull, he knew there was no chance, he said.
Nesley located Mike Lantman, 16, in the engine room near the door Thursday night, he said. The team returned Friday morning to take him off the boat.
The State Police deep-water dive team went down Friday morning but could not locate the uncle. But when Nesley's team returned with Sue Lewicki, a dive team member from Old Bridge, she was able to find Tommy Lantman, 39, because she is small-framed and able to fit through a small hole in the boat.
"Sue is a good diver," Nesley said. "She thinks smart, is strong, and has tremendous courage."
"Everybody said a prayer over the bodies when we brought them on board," he said. "We feel the family can have some closure."
"This is a pretty tight community, the fishing community. We went out and wanted to recover these bodies for these people," Nesley said...