Guy Snell loved to dive. During a 20-year Navy career, he trained hundreds of Navy SCUBA divers from Bangor to Panama City, Fla. After he retired as a boatswain’s mate first class, he continued to dive for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
And so, when his son and friends lost track of his air bubbles as he spearfished for lingcod off Blake Island on Saturday morning, they immediately feared something was wrong. Navy divers found his body four hours later.
The Kitsap County Coroner later determined Snell died of a heart attack. He was 49.
A funeral is planned Friday, 1 p.m., at The Stone Chapel Poulsbo Mortuary. His diving buddy and fellow Navy veteran, David Bradbury, will later place a plaque at the underwater site where Snell died.
Snell lived on the 22000 block of Clear Creek Road. His survivors include his wife, Linda; and sons, Jacob and Joshua.
Bradbury said he, Snell, Snell’s son Jacob, and another good friend, Bryan Fortner, went out to spearfish in a manmade reef off Blake Island, between Bainbridge and Vashon islands. They went out in the morning while currents were light, Bradbury said.
Snell was diving solo in about 60-70 feet of water, with 10-15 feet of visibility and about 60 minutes of air. Bradbury said they lost track of his bubbles 20 minutes into the dive — not uncommon, depending on the currents. At 10:25 a.m., when Snell didn’t return at the 50-minute mark, Bradbury called 9-1-1.
The Seattle Fire Department was first on the scene and deployed two divers, Bradbury said. “We positioned our boat at Guy’s last known location, but the current was too rough and they were unable to descend.”
Area fire and rescue agencies also went to the scene, as well as 40 Navy divers from Bangor, Everett, Keyport, and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. “The response was amazing,” Bradbury said. He came up with a search plan, noting what to expect and what the conditions might be like.
According to Kitsap County Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilson, Navy divers found Snell’s body in 50 feet of water at 2:54 p.m.
Snell’s family submitted this obituary through The Stone Chapel Poulsbo Mortuary:
Guy Adam Snell 49, passed away due to heart failure on May 21, 2011 while diving off of Blake Island, Wash., while spear fishing.
Guy was born on Aug. 28, 1961 in Roseburg, Ore. to Clyde and Donna (Avery) Snell. He graduated from Roseburg High School and went on to join the U.S. Navy. It was here that he made a career of deep sea diving. He retired in July 2000 as a petty officer first class.
During his 20-year career, he achieved several awards, including the Navy Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Expert Rifleman Medal and the Expert Pistol Medal. After retirement, Guy went to work at PSNS where he was a rigger and diver. Guy enjoyed hunting deer and elk, spear fishing, boating and camping.
He is preceded in death by his father, Clyde Snell. Treasuring his memory are his wife, Linda; sons, Joshua and Jacob; mother, Donna Reed; brothers, Paul, Mark and Aaron; in-laws, Bill and Letxy Bunker, Clayton and Debbie Hunt of Roseburg, Ore.; Charles and Tami Bunker of Bend, Ore. and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 27, 2011 at 1 p.m. at The Stone Chapel Poulsbo Mortuary. Please visit the online memorial at www.poulsbomortuary.com.
While this loss is great, we would like to send a special thanks to all the divers who helped search and recover our beloved Guy.