Thread: Under water body recovery
12-21-2000, 12:59 AM #1LHVFDFirehouse.com Guest
Under water body recovery
Our dive team works in conjuction with the county sheriff's dept. The sheriff has taken on a new idea that all deaths are considered a homicide unill proven otherwise. He also read an article that states that a body should be bagged underwater to perserve any evidence, and bottom material and some surrounding water be brought up with the subject. This is a wonderfull idea and I agree with it. I just wonder if he'll approve the purchase of a small crane to get orca out of the water. Anyone delt with this and have any good ideas for removel without having to spend time in the hospital for hernia surgery?
12-21-2000, 11:22 AM #2NCRSQ751Firehouse.com Guest
I have never heard of such a thing and we do not bag bodies under water. We handle them as carefully as one can, but they are brought to the surface and bagged there.
I would suggest you contact Manta at www.manta96.com. They teach an underwater crime scene class that is FREE to fire/rescue and law enforcement personnel. Perhaps they know of something new, or can put your sheriff's mind to rest on the need for such excess.
I would also add that we too work with the local sheriff's department and other law enforcement agencies and have never had such a request.
Other than physical objects surrounding or attached to the body I'd think the water would contaminate many fibers/fluids etc that are potentially evidence anyway. By the time many are looked for and found they tend to have been 'meals' for many other creatures on the food chain.
Captain - Forsyth Rescue Squad
North Carolina Task Force 1
[This message has been edited by NCRSQ751 (edited 12-21-2000).]
12-26-2000, 12:16 AM #3FirediverFirehouse.com Guest
I dive for both a fire dept. and a sheriff's office. at the SO's we have a Body Recovery System that was make by Dive Rescue International, www.diverescueintl.com. It is self draining, and has a detachable lift bag to float it. As for a reason to bag underwater, imagine you as a family member who is on shore. Would you rather see that your loved one was brought up in a way that was respectful, safe and less dramatic, and that the body could not be viewed by everyone. the bag is easily attached to the boat, or brought into the boat safely with heavy duty handles. the other scenario is the family members see the victim brought to the surface and flopped in the boat or brought to shore. Not very pretty. If the body is bagged U/W, any and all evidence found around the body can and should be put into the bag along with the body. the bag is only opened by the coroner or detectives assigned to the case. Any evidence is good evidence until proven otherwise by the lab. The divers are trained to gather everything, and let the detectives and the evidence experts decide what can be used and what is thrown away. you should bag the heads and hands, as to keep what is in the mouth and under the fingernails from getting out. If I was the victim and it was foul play, I would want your sheriff TO worry about what is called excess.
Iberia Parish S.O.
DRRT Section Leader/Training Coordinator
12-28-2000, 01:29 PM #4FyrediverFirehouse.com Guest
We also utilize the Body Recovery System designed by Dive Rescue Intl.. It is a bit of a challenge to move the victim into the bag, especially in murky water, but it's great for evidence preservation. Like any other tool you just need to practice with it a few times to become proficient. Also, look for Bob Tethers book on Underwater Crime Scene Investigations. The class is also offered by Dive Rescue Intl.
12-29-2000, 12:23 PM #5FirediverFirehouse.com Guest
True, it is a bit of a challenge to use in the water (NO vis), but we combat this with training totally blacked out masks. But I wholeheartely agree that the team should train intensivley with it. it is a good system.
01-27-2001, 07:29 PM #6Joseph FelusFirehouse.com Guest
I agree with the concept that every drowning or death is considered a homicide until proven otherwise. I am Chief of a Fire Department which has a Water Emergency Team. All divers on the team are certified in UnderWater Crimnal Investigations through PDIC. Even though a number of the divers do not have police background, this certification gives them the necessary tools to learn crime scene preservation. Although we do not utilize the recovery bag through Diver Rescue International, we have had the opportunity to bag a body underwater on one of the cases we had last year. Yes, it was a bit challenging, but what we found was it was a two diver operation, and it was important that the divers before leaving the surfcae understand what eachothers job was going to be when they got to the body. After orientating themselves to the body and its position, it was not that difficult. Regarding the water which will be in the bag, we made a small hole at the bottom of the bag where the feet would be to let the water drain. This way there was not additional weight, and the condition of the body was somewhat preserved because it was covered in a bag while moving.
02-01-2001, 01:05 AM #7jtrhooverFirehouse.com Guest
Edmond OK Police Department and ATF put on a underwater evidence recovery school. Rocky Yardley, Edmond PD, puts on the class and the nice thing is you get alot of free stuff after you complete the course. I know it seems like a pain to bag underwater, but another benefit is protecting the public from rabid media coverage. Don't kid yourself that the local news won't show the 8 year olds decomposing body on the news. By bagging the body underwater you are also protecting the public from things no one should see and yourself from critisim from your citizens. The DRI bags work well and OCEANID make a raft which is excellent to dive from and use as a body recovery platform - easy to use, quick to deploy and hose off when your done.
02-27-2001, 09:57 PM #8DaronFirehouse.com Guest
Although I have seen a number of devices used for perserving evidence in u/w body recoveries, The best thing I have done is to simply put old pantie hose over as much of the body as possible. It will take several of them to do the job right but it is worth it. I still beleive in bagging the body u/w after this has been done but allowing the water to slowly drain out. To quickly increases the chance of washing away evidence. At this time the only time I will recover water with an item is when it is a gun or smaller item as such to prevent oxidation as it breaks the surface. Then it can be transported to the lab still in water to be removed by them. It is worth noting that on guns you might as well carefully unload and make them safe u/w making note of exactly how it was found, otherwise some overzealous person will remove it from the water to do it for you. There are a number of buckets for crime scenes that can be sealed and marked to perserve the chain of custody. Although there is a possibility of losing some small piece of evidence it is no really pheasable in my opinion to go to that extreme with bodies unless there is something that you already suspect. Breaking the surface tension is your emeny and that is where you should use caution. The head, hands, face ect.. is something else you should pay extra attention too. Your testimony could also be a big part if something is found. I have found that if you are well informed, professional, and logical in everything you do and can testify to that you will come out on top.
[This message has been edited by Daron (edited 02-27-2001).]
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