Search called off for American free diver last seen near Bahamas barge wreck

Aircraft searched more than 673 square miles before end of search

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 20 June 2023 14:32 BST
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Former police officer Ryan Proulx went missing while diving in the Bahamas
Former police officer Ryan Proulx went missing while diving in the Bahamas (East Hartford Police Department)

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A search effort has been called off for a US free diver last seen in the Bahamas near the Bimini Barge Wreck.

The US Coast Guard and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force ended their search on Sunday after former East Hartford officer Ryan Proulx, 31, was last spotted on Friday, the Coast Guard said.

Mr Proulx went missing about 1.5 miles west of the Bimini Inlet, located east of Miami, Florida.

Aircraft searched more than 673 square miles before the end of the search on Sunday afternoon.

Coast Guard Lt Cmdr Matt Spado said on Twitter: “We offer our deepest condolences to the Proulx family. The decision to suspend the active search efforts pending further development is one we never take lightly.”

Mr Proulx arrived in the Bahamas from Palm Beach, Florida, last Thursday, his friend Steve Diffenbacher told WBPF.

The former officer had plenty of diving experience and was a licensed captain. Mr Diffenbacher told the local TV station that Mr Proulx would often travel down the East Coast for clients who wanted to have their vessels transported.

Two helicopters and a search plane were deployed to help the Bahamian authorities.

The Coast Guard said Mr Proulx was last spotted wearing a green shirt and red fins while free diving at the wreck of the barge off the coast of Bimini, according to ABC News.

The barge is almost 75 feet below the surface and is in an area with strong currents. The barge has now developed into an artificial reef which draws large game fish. They gather near the wreck and a drop-off in the area, Scuba Schools International state.

Previously, Mr Proulx served in the East Hartford Police and Monroe Police Departments, a statement from the East Hartford department said.

The 31-year-old, from Connecticut, travelled to the Bahamas with his wife and a group of others. They left the Palm Beach County Marina last Thursday.

Mr Diffenbacher is asking those travelling to Florida to keep an eye out for Mr Proulx, WBPF noted.

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