Robert Wass, a Smithtown diving-equipment expert, said he had
been contacted by authorities and asked to examine McGurr's gear.
Authorities had few details of the accident. The Coast Guard said
McGurr, who was working as a crew member aboard the dive boat, was
last seen at a depth of 180 feet, where the Doria lies on its
starboard side on the bottom of the ocean. The Seeker crew reported
McGurr missing at 11 a.m., and the boat's skipper, Daniel Crowell,
dived to the wreck to locate McGurr. The lifeless body was retrieved
by two Seeker divers at about 1:45 p.m.
No charter boat takes more divers to the Andrea Doria than the
Seeker, and people who know Crowell said they were stunned by the
boat's series of accidents.
"This is going to upset Danny pretty good," said John
Chatterdon, a friend of Crowell's who has made more than 130 dives
on the Andrea Doria. "Last year was a real bad year. You just
don't expect that to be followed by another very bad year."
The 697-foot Andrea Doria, which sank on July 25, 1956, after a
collision with another liner, is often referred to as the "Mt.
Everest" of scuba diving. Only the most highly qualified divers
attempt to explore the wreck, a darkened maze of muck-filled
passageways turned on their sides. The site is also subject to
strong ocean currents and summertime water temperatures in the 40s.
Like the three divers who died last summer, McGurr apparently
used a blend of gases known as "tri-mix" in his air tanks
as he explored the ship. To avoid the narcotic effect of nitrogen at
the high pressure underwater, divers replace some of the nitrogen in
their tanks with helium. So, tri-mix contains oxygen, nitrogen and
McGurr's family said he was a competition skydiver and an avid
scuba diver who dived at many wrecks over the years and was a member
of a local diving club.
Kathleen McGurr said that last summer her husband brought home a
cache of treasure from the Andrea Doria: two cups and saucers, two
crystal salad bowls, and the plate for his mother.
She said that even though her husband was a veteran diver, she
always worried about his safety. She said they had discussed the
risks of diving many times before.
"He said if he didn't feel right about something, he
wouldn't do it," she said. "That was the talk we always
Murley, the diver killed last week, was a newcomer to the wreck.
After making successful dives last week on Tuesday and Wednesday
morning, he was about to descend on his third dive Wednesday at 5
p.m. when he appeared to be in trouble, said Joe Jackson, another
Cincinnati diver who was swimming a few feet away.
"I asked him what was wrong and it was apparent that things
weren't right," Jackson said yesterday from the Cincinnati home
of Murley's parents. "He seemed to be struggling hanging onto
the anchor line. Some people on the boat said they heard him call
out for help and as we approached the back of the boat somebody said
he's not breathing."
Crew members pulled him onto the deck and tried to revive him
with cardiopulmonary resuscitation before Coast Guard personnel
arrived and airlifted him to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. But
Murley died of a massive heart attack that was unrelated to the
sport he loved so much.
Yesterday, about 150 people crowded into the Vorhees Funeral Home
in Cincinnati to honor Murley, who had plunged into the sport of
diving with great passion only two years ago, but had quickly gained
the skills to tackle the world's most feared dive.
"He was a fast learner," Jackson said. "He was
really comfortable in the water. When things went wrong he would
deal with them a lot better than more experienced divers."
Mark Kammer, Murley's best friend of 27 years and a civilian
employee of the U.S. Air Force, said Murley owned Better Telephones
and Technology, a successful telephone installation company that he
had started 16 years ago in Cincinnati.
Murley dived nearly every weekend in preparation for the big
"He went at it with great gusto," Kammer said.
Oscar Corral, Tom Demoretcky and Lauren Terrazzano
contributed to this story.