Heroic Navy Diver Sacrificed His Life

Though their superiors made poor choices that ultimately proved fatal, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Harris made the heroic decision to stay with his trapped fellow diver rather than let him die alone underwater. Harris and Petty Officer 1st Class James Reyher both died on February 26, 2013 during a training dive at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The Navy’s investigation into their deaths revealed that the fatal accidents were a result of weak leadership on the part of their superiors combined with a series of bad decisions, including doing a dive where there was poor visibility and conducting a training exercise when there was “insufficient air capacity.” Reyher became tangled in the shoddy equipment underground, but Harris refused to cut the line connecting them and swim to the top. Instead, “Harris exhausted himself in an attempt to save Reyher,” the investigator stated. “Both divers resisted the natural instincts of self-preservation, in order to expel his last breaths in an effort to save each other.”