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Ohio man dies in Gilboa Quarry



Southern Ohio Diving Academy web Enlarge

A third diver in two months died yesterday following an accident at Gilboa Quarry, although it was still unclear what caused his death.

Van A. Losh, 60, of West Alexandria, Ohio, just west of Dayton, was pronounced dead at St. Rita's Medical Center, Lima, where he was taken by air ambulance from the quarry in Putnam County.

A certified diving instructor, Mr. Losh had gone to the quarry for pleasure diving with friends. Allen County Coroner Dr. Gary Beasley said he ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Lucas County Coroner's Office to determine whether Mr. Losh's death was the result of a medical problem or a diving accident.

"He did have some health problems, but he was found in the water, and those are the things we're going to have rule out," Dr. Beasley said. "Right now we're not really sure what transpired."

The coroner said Mr. Losh was diving with friends when he encountered a problem and went to the surface.

"They said he did break the water so they went ahead and completed their dive," Dr. Beasley said. "When they came back up, he was in the water."

It's unclear what happened to Mr. Losh in the meantime. His friends got him out of the water and called for help just before 11 a.m.

"He frequented the quarry. He'd been there several times, according to his wife," Dr. Beasley said. "It's very sad. This is the third one that my office has had to handle this year."

On April 21, Sherry Eads, 42, of Brookville, Ohio, and Daniel Frendenberg, 21, of Union, Ohio, died after they were pulled from the quarry. Investigators suspected that icing in the regulators of the divers' equipment might have led to other problems, including diver panic.

Dr. Beasley said his office still has not made a determination on the cause of the divers' deaths.

Jim Ikerd, owner of Southern Ohio Diving Academy in Kettering and Vandalia, said Mr. Losh had been an instructor for him for several years. He described Mr. Losh as a "very safe" diver who crossed his t's and dotted his i's.

"He did a lot more technical stuff, but he did it with the knowledge behind it," Mr. Ikerd said. "He didn't just jump into it."

Mr. Losh, he said, was trained, equipped, and experienced in the kind of deep and cold-water diving that Gilboa Quarry offers.

It is the deepest quarry in Ohio, with depths in excess of 120 feet.

Quarry owner Mike Williams declined to comment yesterday.

Dale Musser, a Northwood dive shop owner, said he has been teaching dive classes at Gilboa for years and feels it's a safe, well-run operation.

"The key thing is, you've got to stay within your ability. You've got to stay healthy and you've got to have the proper gear," Mr. Musser said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

or 419-353-5972.

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