Saturday, May 21, 2005


Experienced scuba diver drowns diving for artifacts in Florida


by Jorge Sanchez and Jamal Thalji
May 17, 2005

RED LEVEL, Florida -- A scuba diver drowned while diving for artifacts in the Withlacoochee River Saturday morning.

Lemley Lawton Parker, 27, of Dade City was scuba diving with friends when he broke to the surface, shouting that he needed help, according to a report from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

His cries were heard by Tina Tetterton, 25, aboard the party's dive boat on the Withlacoochee River in northwestern Citrus.

"She took the boat closer to where he was and threw him the anchor line," said Gail Tierney, public information officer for the Sheriff's Office. "But he didn't seem to be able to grab it and then he went back under again."

Tetterton started screaming, Tierney said, and her husband, Larry, who had been diving, also surfaced and discovered what was happening. He dived down and came up with Parker's body, according to the sheriff's report.

Larry Tetterton took the body to the riverbank and started CPR, the report said, while a call was made to 911.

Citrus emergency medical service crews arrived and also performed CPR, but Parker could not be revived. He was taken to Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center in Crystal River, where he was pronounced dead.

His body was taken to the Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy, according to the Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the drowning.

Tetterton said the three shared a common interest in archaeology and had attended a seminar in Gainesville a week before. He said they selected the dive area because the water quality would be sufficiently clear.

"He was as genuine and original a person as you could ever meet," Tetterton said of his friend Parker, who worked as an aluminum enclosure installer.

Parker's family said he was an avid fossil hunter.

Jack and Mary Ann Bailey remembered their son for his love of the outdoors. His American Indian heritage had inspired his hobby the past four years.

His most prized possessions sit in collector's boxes at his parent's house, including a small group of spearheads, some of which are 8,000 to 12,000 years old.

"He was infatuated with it," his mother said. "He was overwhelmed by it."

Tetterton said he doesn't know what caused the drowning. Parker was unable to speak to him after he pulled him from the river.

The drowning occurred near Sunflower Point, a street that ends at the river, shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday.

The divers were in the Withlacoochee about a mile west of the Lake Rousseau Dam, according to the sheriff's report.

They were searching for artifacts such as arrowheads in the river.

The Tettertons live in Hernando and had known Parker for about three years, but this was their first diving trip together.

The parents said no one can tell them what happened to their son. He was asthmatic, but there is no indication what role that may have played in his death. He was an experienced swimmer and scuba diver. His oxygen tank was fine, his mother said, with plenty of pressure in it.

The river, they were told, was 12 feet to 15 feet deep at most, and their son stood 6 feet 5.

"The outdoors, that was his thing," his mother said. "That's where he felt most comfortable. That's the last place we would expect something like that to happen. I would expect him to be run over with a car before something like this."


something just does not seem right.. he was an outdoors men who could have went for the bank.. the lady moved the boat closer and threw him the anchor line.. would it not already be anchored? and if she had time to move the boat why didn't she jump in or grab him? it was a river not the ocean.. something just isn't right... cdub
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