please wait...

Police diver survives expedition into the La Brea Tar Pits to locate missing murder weapon

Published on: 8th October, 2015 | Diving News
Photo credit: Betsy Weber (Creative Commons license 2.0)
The job of police dive units involves searching for dumped murder weapons, raising abandoned cars in local waterways, or locating semi-decomposed bodies. LAPD Dive Supervisor Sgt. David Mascarenas, recently completed one of the most dangerous recoveries to date.

Police suspected the murder weapon for a high profile criminal case had been thrown into the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, famous for having trapped and killed wooly mammoths and other giants of the past. Methane gas and the thick, sticky ooze weren’t the only risks to Mascarenas when he entered the soup to search for the items, he wasn’t able to see his hand in front of his face and had already acknowledged he may not make it out alive.

What was intended to be a seven minute dive became ten times that, with Mascarenas swimming between pockets of water, tar and columns of methane, which would burst as he approached them. It was an ambitious mission, not one of his fellow divers were prepared to accept the risks, and the likelihood of finding small objects in those conditions was miniscule.

On two occasions he did get stuck in the quicksand-like muck and had to be pulled (so hard he felt his ribs would break) by the cable connecting him and his land based support team.

Finally emerging, triumphant with the lost murder weapon, Mascarenas’s efforts allowed enforcement officers to take the suspects into custody. He achieved an impressive feat, one which had never been completed before, and hopefully one that never has to be attempted again.


The original article ‘Dark Waters’ by Kevin Sites in Alert Diver Magazine is available here: http://www.alertdiver.com/Dark_Waters


Emma McIntosh

TDI Adv. Nitrox & Deco. Procedures. IANTD Cavern Certified. PhD Candidate in Ecology