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Missing diver was 'very experienced,' believed to have been a Navy diver

A diver reported missing off Orcas Island Wednesday has been identified as Michael Scherner, 40, of Bellingham, the San Juan County Sheriff's Department reported today.

"Mr. Scherner is described as a 'very experienced diver' and is believed to have been a diver in the U.S. Navy," Sheriff Bill Cumming reported today in a press release. "Family members were notified of his disappearance by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office."

Scherner was reported missing to the Coast Guard at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday while diving off the Sisters, located off the north side of Orcas Island. The San Juan County Dive/Rescue Team went to the area and conducted an extensive underwater search of the area, as well as in-depth interviews with other divers present.

The response from the Sheriff’s Office via the Patrol Vessel Guardian began at about 4 p.m. and was terminated at 8:30 p.m. Divers are returning to the area this morning to conduct one more limited search in an area that that was not searched last night.

The Coast Guard suspended its search at 9:32 p.m., Wednesday.

The Coast Guard and the San Juan County dive team searched an area about 46 square nautical miles for more than five hours.

Diver never resurfaced after a group dive
At about 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, Coast Guard Group/Air Station Port Angeles received a call for help for a diver who never resurfaced after a group dive.

The Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, homeported in Bellingham, Coast Guard Group/Air Station Port Angeles helicopter crews and Coast Guard Station Bellingham boat crews assisted with the search.

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