Crews recover body of missing diver found in Yukon dive site off Mission Beach

Uncle ID'd diver as 26-year-old Staci Jackson

SAN DIEGO - The body of a scuba diver who died while diving on the wreck of the Yukon about 1.5 miles off Mission Beach was recovered Sunday.

The woman's dive partners noticed she was missing when they surfaced Saturday, according to San Diego lifeguards and U.S. Coast Guard personnel who helped recover the body.

The woman was part of a diving class with four students aboard the motor vessel Humboldt, authorities said. The accident was reported about 2:30 p.m. 10News was told a dive team aboard the Humboldt found the body in the sunken ship about 4:30 p.m.

Because of the fading daylight and rough surface conditions, authorities planned to recover the body at first light on Sunday. The body was recovered by lifeguards at about 9:30 a.m. and has since been turned over to the Medical Examiner's Office.

Authorities have not officially identified the woman. However, the woman's uncle identified her to 10News as 26-year-old Staci Jackson, a Marine who is stationed at Camp Pendleton. Jackson is a native of Philadelphia, her uncle said.

Lifeguards told 10News on Sunday that the woman's death appears to be an accident and that no foul play was suspected.

Initial reports from a source aboard the Humboldt told 10News that the woman's body appeared to be tied to the sunken ship and her ankles appeared to be bound.

However, lifeguards confirmed Sunday that the woman was not bound or tied to the ship. Lifeguards said the woman experienced a problem with her buoyancy apparatus.

Her dive partner saw that she needed help but went up to the surface too quickly and became disoriented. He was taken to a local hospital to be checked out.

Due to choppy seas, the current pushed the woman next to the Yukon and she became entangled in some ropes, according to lifeguards.

David Pierce, director of the San Diego Council of Divers, has dived the Yukon site and said it presents dangers.

"The ship is actually lying on its side. It did not go down properly," Pierce said. "Because it's on its side, divers can get disoriented in there pretty quickly."

Pierce said he knew of a diving instructor several years ago who got into the engine room of the Yukon, which had been welded shut. That diver got tangled in the wreckage, ran out of air and drowned.

"The bottom of the wreck is 100 feet down and at that depth you might have only 17 minutes of air time down there," Pierce said.

The depth of the 366-foot Yukon, a Canadian destroyer sunk to form an artificial reef in 2000, ranges from about 55 feet to 100 feet. It and other intentionally scuttled vessels form what divers call "wreck alley."

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