Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith reports that the body of a scuba diver has been recovered today from deep water in the former Tilly Foster iron mine in the Town of Southeast. The recovery concluded a search commenced after the man went missing while diving in the mine yesterday afternoon (Sunday, November 19th).
The body of Mr. Robert Thomas, aged 48, of Jersey City, New Jersey, was recovered from the mine at about 12:55 p.m. today. Members of the New York State Police dive team, using sophisticated sonar and camera equipment, located the body at a depth of about 171 feet. They then lowered a cable from the surface, attached the cable to the body and lifted it out of the water.
Mr. Thomas was described as a very experienced technical diver who had gone diving in the former iron mine many times in the past. He was at the mine with two diving colleagues yesterday and went into the water at about noon, but then failed to resurface.
Preliminary reports indicate that Mr. Thomas may have become entangled in wires or cables on the bottom of the flooded mine shaft. The old mine is filled with water ranging in depths from 175 to 600 feet, and the bottom is littered with wrecked cars and trucks, old mining equipment and other debris.
An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of Mr. Thomas’ death.