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Dredger Dies Diving Outside Nome

Dredges near Belmont Point at the mouth of the Snake River. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KNOM.

Dredges near Belmont Point at the mouth of the Snake River. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KNOM.


A man diving off a dredge outside Nome was found floating in the water and declared dead late Wednesday night. The diver was Sean Beals, 39, of Seattle, Washington.

“The diver was noticed at about 10:30 p.m. by someone else working on the tender,” explained Megan Peters, a spokesperson for Alaska State Troopers, “and they attempted to get him help as quickly as they could, performing lifesaving measures.”

Peters said Beals was diving off a 44-foot-long gold dredge named “Argo”—mentioned in a miner profile last year by KNOM—about four miles east of Nome and a quarter mile offshore. Another crew member noticed Beals floating face-down and unresponsive in the water and pulled him on deck, where the crew member began administering CPR.

Search and Rescue responded to the incident, transporting Beals to Norton Sound Regional Hospital where he was declared deceased.

Peters says it’s unknown if Beals drowned or suffered a medical emergency while diving, bu no foul play is suspected.

Beals’ body is being flown to Anchorage to undergo an autopsy by the State Medical Examiner’s office. The U.S. Coast Guard is sending a marine investigator to Nome to analyze the death as a major marine incident.

Harbormaster Lucas Stotts said Beals’ death is the third is as many years during Nome’s summer gold rush season. Stotts said all three past deaths have been the result of divers either drowning or having medical emergencies like heart attacks while diving.

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