The Sheriff Calls

One morning when I worked near the Las Vegas airport, one of my engineers hailed me as I arrived at work. He had heard on the radio that the sheriff was looking for anyone who had experience diving in Devil's Hole. I immediately called to see what was up. The sheriff's office said that there was a rescue operation under way for two lost divers at Devil's Hole and could I assist them? I said "yes." There would be a plane waiting for me at the North Las Vegas airport in an hour.

When I arrived at the airport I found a second person waiting for the same plane. He was a doctor from the coroner's office. We took off and headed north. Our landing was at a legal brothel called Ash Meadows. The landing was on an uneven grassy strip next to the main house. Was it an omen that there was a crashed plane upside down next to the runway? All of the girls had come out to see us. Since I was in my office clothes, they kept looking past me thinking that I couldn't be the diver. A jeep was waiting.

Two miles later, we found the Hole surrounded by a task force consisting of Navy frogmen, U.S. Park Service representatives, sheriff's cars and a roach coach for refreshments and coffee. The USPS person asked my name and referred to a sheet she had. She found my name. My name was on the list of formerly authorized divers. The Operation Chief briefed me on where they were with the search. They had found no evidence of the two missing teens. All of the Navy divers had used up their diving time. None of them would be diving again for many hours. I told the Chief that I knew of an air filled room where the missing divers could still be surviving but unable to exit. He said, "Suit up."

Since I was wearing a suit and tie, someone loaned me their trunks, fins, flashlight, mask and triple-aluminum air tanks. The chief wanted me to wear a knife but I demurred.

I entered the water and headed down. The slot in the rock walls which was the path to the room is eighty feet down and not that obvious. I found the slot and squiggled thru. It is tight enough that my tanks banged on one side and my tummy scraped on the other. Then it was up eighty feet and into the room. The landing area is a beautiful white crystalline calcium carbonate beach. The room itself was about twelve feet high and forty feet long. Fallen rock debris from the collapsed ceiling littered the floor. There were no signs that anyone either was or had been there. There is a small entrance pool at the far end of the room. I removed my tanks and climbed over the rock debris to check the other entrance. The same result: no evidence.

I returned to the surface the way I had come. My efforts hadn't helped. I found out later that the lady serving coffee from the sheriff's roach coach was the mother of one of the missing divers, doing what she could to help.

(See June 1965).
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