Abalone Diver Dies Off Sonoma County Coast

Authorities say an abalone diver died in the water off the Sonoma County coast.

Sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown says the man, identified as 54-year-old Jeffrey Alan Rhea, of Rohnert Park, had been diving Sunday afternoon with two others in Salt Point State Park when he began struggling in the water.

Rhea was a Marines Corp veteran with a 27-year career with the California Highway Patrol, CHP spokesman Officer Jon Sloat said. Rhea leaves behind two adult daughters.

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports state parks lifeguards and a sheriff's paramedic tried to revive Rhea, but he was pronounced dead at a bluff near the water.

He becomes the fifth casualty of the abalone diving season which began last month.

Three men drowned on April 12 after getting into rough water off Caspar Cove, a popular abalone site near Fort Bragg. On April 21, an abalone picker trapped by an incoming tide died after falling from a cliff at a landmark called Hardy Rock near Westport.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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