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March 2010    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 36, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Abalone Diver Dies “Doing Something He Loved”

from the March, 2010 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In November, Brian Dinday appeared on San Francisco’s National Public Radio station to describe why he loved to dive for abalone in Sonoma County, despite the danger. “I’m a desk-bound lawyer and at 61, my wife thinks I am too old for abalone diving. She thinks it’s dangerous - - and it is. Forget Jaws. The kelp can tangle and drown you. You have to scale cliffs with 50 pounds of equipment. Ab diving is a hold-yourbreath sport, so you can miscalculate when you ascend.” Two weeks later, Dinday drowned off of Horseshoe Cove in Salt Point State Park during an abalone dive with his 30-year-old son, Matthew. It was the day after Dinday had celebrated his 62nd birthday.

Matthew says the two were heading back to shore around noon when the waves came out of nowhere. Matthew reached the rocks first, realized Dinday was not behind him, and went back in. He found his father floating face-down but wasn’t able to pull him in. A sheriff’s helicopter arrived at 1 p.m. with a 100-foot recue line to strap around the unconscious Dinday, now washed up on some rocks. He was airlifted to the top of a nearby bluff and pronounced dead.

After a hiatus of 20 years, Dinday took up abalone diving a few years ago and went with Matthew six times a year. The marine forecast had predicted big swells for that weekend but Dinday’s wife, Mary, told the Marin Independent Journal that he always took safety precautions and knew the risks. “If there is any way to be consoled by this, at least he was doing something he loved.”

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