The Latest: Explorers leave no passage unmapped at Blue Hole


SANTA ROSA, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the death of a diver at New Mexico’s Blue Hole (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

The head of a group of elite divers who have been exploring the underwater cave system below New Mexico’s famed Blue Hole says no more exploration is necessary.

Curt Bowen of the ADM Exploration Foundation says that’s because the team explored every cave passage they could fit through and the system ended in a tight rock breakdown at a depth of 194 feet.

Due to the extreme environment, the city has accepted the group’s recommendation that the cave system remain off-limits to the public.

The divers have covered and secured the grate at the bottom of the swimming hole to prevent untrained divers from entering.

Bowen plans to complete a three-dimensional map illustrating the entire Blue Hole system.

One of the team’s divers died last week during the survey from what authorities say appears to be an accidental drowning.

___

3:50 p.m.

Officials say no more exploration is planned of the underwater cave system at New Mexico’s famed Blue Hole.

Santa Rosa City Manager Timothy Dodge said Thursday he was briefed by the team of elite divers who surveyed the maze of caves under the swimming hole.

They say they surveyed all the passages they could fit through and the system ended in a rock breakdown 194 feet down. They recommended the cave system remain off-limits to the public.

One of the divers who was helping with the survey, 43-year-old Shane Thompson, died last week while he and another experienced diver were about 160 feet below the surface.

Authorities say the initial investigation suggests it was an accidental drowning, but it will be weeks before autopsy results are released.

Dodge says the team of divers covered and locked the grate at the bottom of the swimming hole to prevent anyone from going beyond the area that’s open for recreation.

___

2:15 p.m.

Authorities say an experienced California diver who was helping with the exploration of the underwater passageways that radiate from a well-known swimming hole in eastern New Mexico has died.

The initial investigation suggests 43-year-old Shane Thompson’s death below the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa was an accidental drowning.

Police Chief Jude Gallegos says Thompson was among a group from the ADM Exploration Foundation who were at Blue Hole for a multiple-day exploration. The group has been working on surveying the underwater cave system since 2013.

Thompson dove into Blue Hole on March 26 with another experienced diver, Mike Young. Gallegos says something happened when the divers were about 160 feet below the surface.

The chief says it’s still unclear what went wrong and autopsy results are expected to take weeks.