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Thread: New Hampshire Firefighter Drowns While Diving

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    New Hampshire Firefighter Drowns While Diving

    New Hampshire Firefighter Drowns While Diving

    GEOFF CUNNINGHAM
    Courtesy of The Citizen

    LACONIA Teams of divers from the all across the state and Boston resumed the search this morning to recover the body of Laconia Fire Department Lt. Mark Miller who drowned during a training accident at Weirs Beach on Thursday afternoon.

    Also assisting in the search are the Fish and Game Department, the New Hampshire State Police, the Marine Patrol and area dive teams.

    Fire Chief Ken Erickson said the search will continue until his body is found.

    Miller, a member of the department for 17 years and fellow department diver JP Hobby were testing new suits when Miller failed to surface.

    The search resumed this morning after Erickson conducted a briefing for the search personnel at the Weirs Beach station.

    Gov. Craig Benson was on the scene at daylight to meet with the chief, Miller's family and to offer whatever state assistance was needed.

    "This reminds us that everyday firefighters put their lives on the line for the men and women in the state. This is just a reminder of how quickly things can turn around. It's tough," he said after meeting with the family.

    "Having you here is a great boost for morale," the chief told the governor.

    Dive teams from the Boston, Concord, Nashua, Portsmouth and Manchester fire departments responded to the call for all available divers to assist in the recovery.

    One department crew stayed on the bridge over the channel all night just in case Miller's body washed out from under the ice and was carried downstream by the current, police said this morning.

    Rescue personnel from throughout the state converged on Weirs Bay Thursday afternoon and searched for any signs of the firefighter.

    The search was called off shortly after 6:30 p.m. because of darkness.

    His colleagues returned to the scene this morning to resume what has been an extremely emotional rescue-turned-recovery effort.

    "We are going to do everything in our power to get our firefighter home," Erickson said Thursday afternoon, fighting back tears.

    A search crew made up of divers, medical personnel, police officers and firefighters from all over the state, was halted at approximately 6:35 p.m., some four hours after the diver was reported missing.

    Erickson said the members of the local department were training with a new set of dive suits just off the main dock for the Mount Washington cruise ship, when trouble arose around 2:45 p.m.

    Both Miller and Hobby are experienced divers.

    The pair was believed to be diving in an area of open water that surrounded the docks and extended out approximately 100 feet to a solid sheet of ice. The open water ran to the shore along the length of the docks, which have electric bubblers keeping the water from freezing solid.

    Laconia Police Sgt. Steven Clarke, who spoke for Erickson earlier on Thursday, said the pair gave each other a "thumbs-up" sign to surface. He said one man reached the surface to find his partner missing.

    Despite going back under, the firefighter could not find his partner.

    A Massachusetts resident, who wished to remain unnamed, said she was walking on the boardwalk when she heard shouts from the docks below.

    "He was alone and was yelling that his friend was missing," she said.

    The woman called 911 and firefighters immediately responded to the scene calling all available dive teams in the state to respond.

    Crews from Chichester, Belmont, Franklin, Tilton-Northfield, Gilford, Meredith, Alton, Barnstead and Gilmanton were all on scene assisting. So too was the state Fish and Game Dive Team and numerous private diving outfits.

    Officials began by sending teams of boats and divers into the water in the immediate area of the docks.

    Dan McKenney of Wolfeboro's Dive Winnipesaukee was among those who assisted in the underwater part of the search effort.

    He said water temperatures were somewhere in the area of 35 degrees with depths ranging from 20 to 30 feet. He said visibility under the water is between 15 and 20 feet for those searching.

    Authorities did not say how much air was believed to be in the victim's tank when he was last seen, but experts said a full tank only lasts around 30 minutes in this weather.

    Experienced ice-divers on the scene said it can become extremely disorienting when one is under water that is covered with ice. It is for this reason that divers going under the ice are always tethered to a person above the surface.

    As more crews arrived on the scene they sent firefighters in "dry-suits" out onto the edge of the ice to try to spot the lost diver.

    The crews fed underwater cameras through holes that they cut with ice-augers. Authorities said there was still 2-3 feet of ice where they were cutting.

    Searchers also could be seen using metal detectors to patrol the area on the ice.

    Authorities also positioned a search boat near the head of Paugus Bay near the bridge, where the current is said to flow.

    The victim's family and friends stood on the dock and were comforted by firefighters as the search crews worked. City Manager Eileen Cabanel and other top officials also responded to the scene to lend their support.

    A large crowd of spectators also lined the edge of the boardwalk, as numerous teams flowed up and down the ramp to the Mount Washington dock.

    Dozens of emergency personnel could be seen all over the water, ice, and docks by the time night fell and the search was temporarily halted for safety reasons.

    The chief said the state's fire union has pledged its support with teams from as far away as Boston assisting in today's effort.

    McKenney and others who assisted on Thursday said they, too, would likely be back.

    "If they need us, we'll be here," he said.

    Although no official change has been made, the chief said the search is now "basically a recovery effort."

    The department's Web site now shows a red, white and blue ribbon beside Miller's name with the words "We remember."

    The chief praised the focused efforts of those who assisted in the search on Thursday amid extreme emotions. Fire and police crews were on the scene all night to secure the area.

    "Until he comes home ... they'll be there with him," he said.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...3&sectionId=39

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    Missing Firefighter Found

    Missing Firefighter Found
    Diver May Have Become Disoriented Under Ice

    POSTED: 2:23 p.m. EST March 12, 2004
    UPDATED: 2:35 p.m. EST March 12, 2004


    Story by The Champlain Channel

    BOSTON -- Authorities have recovered the body of a Laconia, N.H., firefighter who disappeared while diving in Lake Winnipesaukee Thursday.

    The body of Lt. Mark Miller was found around 1 p.m. Friday. Scores of firefighters who helped search for him formed a double line on a dock and saluted as colleagues carried a flag-draped litter to a waiting vehicle.

    Miller, head of the department's diving team, disappeared while trying out new diving suits with a fellow firefighter. Authorities speculate he may have become disoriented and become trapped under the ice.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=27486

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    New Hampshire Firefighter Is Remembered For Talent, Dedication

    New Hampshire Firefighter Is Remembered For Talent, Dedication

    BEA LEWIS
    Courtesy of The Citizen

    LACONIA As flags throughout the city hung at half-staff, Laconia Firefighter Mark Miller was being remembered Friday for his dedication to his job and family. Miller, 43, died in a dive training accident on Thursday.

    Mike Drake of New Hampton, a captain with the Laconia Fire Department, recalled Miller as a talented professional who worked hard to hone his skills.

    "The dive team was always a desire of his heart. He took the bull by the horns and really got things moving," recounted Drake.

    Miller was committed to creating a top-notch dive team, Drake said, recalling that he had daily meetings with Chief Ken Erickson regarding the team's development. Miller also organized fund-raising efforts that allowed for the purchase of a dive boat and other needed equipment.

    "He wanted something that the City of Laconia and the Laconia Fire Department could be proud of and he put everything he had into that project," said Drake.

    After being promoted to captain, Drake who joined the department in 1983, recalled he was assigned to Miller's shift at the Weirs Station.

    "He was a unique, special type of guy. We all have our quirks, but he was always willing to give someone a hug and lift them up with a smile."

    Miller's death has deeply shaken the department.

    "It's just like having a brother," Drake said of the relationships that develop between firefighters. No matter their differences at the fire house, Drake said, when a call comes in each member knows that they can trust each other with their lives.

    "It's a brotherhood. That really speaks for itself," he said.

    During the recovery efforts, Drake said, the Laconia Department was heartened by the outpouring of help from fire departments from throughout New Hampshire and from neighboring Massachusetts.

    As divers continued to search the icy waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, Drake said, department members had their spirits buoyed by other firefighters.

    "The guys were always there to boost you up and say, 'We're going to get him out and bring him home," Drake continued.

    Miller was devoted to his wife, Gayle, and played an active roll in the lives of his three step-daughters, according to Drake who said he regularly saw the family at track meets.

    "I would call him and always get a busy signal. He'd tell me the girls were using the Internet," Drake said.

    "We're going to work our way through this and come out the other side. Part of the process was getting him out and bringing him where he needs to be," Drake said. "He won't be forgotten. Everything the dive team does now, he will be in the back of their minds."

    "Someone will pick up the ball in his memory and become the driving force behind it. He would have wanted that," said Drake.

    Deborah Sanville of Laconia dealt with Miller as part of her involvement with numerous charities at Christmas time.

    She remembers him for his generous nature and willingness to volunteer.

    "Mark was always doing what he could...he was a great family man," she said.

    Going above and beyond the call of duty, she said, was "simply in his nature."

    "I think (volunteering) was something he enjoyed doing."

    Visitation is Tuesday March 16, 2004 from 2-4 p.m. & 6-9 p.m. at the Wilkinson Beane Funeral Home, 164 Pleasant Street, Laconia, NH.

    A funeral is being held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lakes Church on 54 Fairmont Street in Laconia.

    Fire Department Personnel are requested to stage at the K-Mart Plaza on Route 11 at the Gilford /Laconia city line at 8:30 am.

    Pipe and Drum Bands are asked to coordinate with Skip Hebert.

    Honor Guards are asked to contact the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.

    In Lieu of Flowers donations can be made to:

    Laconia Lifesaving Fund C/o Laconia Fire Department 848 North Main Street Laconia NH 03246

    Local 1153 Miller Family Relief Fund c/o Laconia Savings Bank 62 Pleasant Street Laconia NH 03246

    For more information, check the pffnh.org website.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=27560

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    Throngs Pay Their Respects To New Hampshire Firefighter

    JOHN KOZIOL
    Courtesy of The Citizen

    LACONIA

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    Miller, Mark

    Age: 43
    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Rank: Firefighter
    Nature of Death: Asphyxiation (includes drowning)
    Status: Career
    Emergency Duty: No

    Incident Date: 03/11/2004
    Duty Type: Training
    Incident Time: 15:00
    Activity Type: Other
    Death Date: 03/11/2004
    Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Laconia Fire Department
    848 North Main St.
    Laconia , New Hampshire 03246
    Chief: Kenneth Erickson

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Miller drowned during a training accident while testing new dive suits.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    Firefighter Miller Family Relief Fund, C/o Laconia Saving Bank, 62 Pleasant St. Laconia, NH 03246 Tele. (603) 524-1212.; Laconia Fire Department Lifesaving Fund, C/o Laconia Fire Department, 848 North Main St., Laconia, NH 03246


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application...eath_year=2004

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    New Hampshire Firefighter Miller Laid To Rest In Solemn Rite

    JOHN KOZIOL


    LACONIA

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