Branson Duck Boat Accident Reminder Of Need For Tulsa Police Dive Team
TULSA, Oklahoma - The deadly boat accident in Branson, Missouri that left 17 dead is a reminder that the Tulsa Police Department’s dive team was ready to respond to that tragedy if needed.
If it was a situation where people are in the water, needing to be rescued, that would fall on the Tulsa Fire Department. But if it turns into a recovery effort, where people have passed away, that would be the responsibility of the Tulsa Police Department's dive team.
The 10-member dive team gets called out at least six times a year to recover evidence like a gun or car dumped into a pond, river, or lake or to recover drowning victims.
They recovered a man who fell through the ice in January and recovered three fishermen from the Arkansas River two years ago.
They say in most lakes, the visibility is zero and sonar helps them narrow down where to search, which they often do by feel.
"It's not easy. You're dragging all that equipment, dragging hoses and you can't see. You rely on those people above as much as you're relying on your own skill," said TPD Dive Team Corporal Shawn Kite.
He feels for the families in Branson and said even though this type of recovery work can take an emotional toll on the divers, it's also rewarding.
"As much as it might hurt to find someone close to my child's age or someone close to my grandparent's age, it would take a toll, but knowing I was able to complete a process for that family to have them to go through the funeral process, that aspect would be complete for them," Kite said.
The dive team's best advice is, any time you're on a body of water, wear a life vest whether you think you're going to need it or not.
Things happen so quickly, they say it's better to be safe than be sorry.