Local man dead after scuba diving accident
St. Albert resident, retired RCMP officer
Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 06:00 am
The body of a St. Albert resident and retired RCMP officer was recovered over the weekend after he drowned following a scuba diving accident in central Alberta.
Staff Sgt. Russell Gillespie, 55, was scuba diving with a friend Saturday afternoon at Twin Lakes near Pigeon Lake when he experienced “difficulties.”
“While immediate attempts were made to provide assistance and get him to the surface, those measures were unsuccessful,” RCMP spokesperson Staff Sgt. Shawn LeMay said. “Exhaustive efforts continued into the night as response agencies attempted to locate Gillespie.”
The search, conducted by RCMP, response agencies and three recreational divers, resumed Sunday morning with Gillespie’s body being recovered at roughly 4 p.m.
LeMay said he believes Gillespie was an experienced diver but could not comment if he had previously explored the Twin Lakes area.
Twin Lakes is a popular destination for scuba diving enthusiasts in the province and is located roughly 115 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
Gillespie spent much of his life with the RCMP, retiring on July 15 after 35 years of service.
His most recent post was at K Division in Edmonton, although he served in many corners of the province throughout his career — he was stationed as far north as Peace River and as far south as Lethbridge, including a stint in Morinville in 1995.
He was honoured with the 20-, 25- and 30-year medals of service.
Gillespie’s family requested that media respect their privacy during their time of mourning and refrain from attempting to contact them.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with Russ’s family and we stand together in this difficult time to provide support where possible to all those close to him,” LeMay said.
He added the investigation remains open as RCMP await autopsy results from the medical examiner, which are expected in the coming days.
“(The investigation) very much falls in the hands of the medical examiners who will look at, of course, the cause of death and will determine if the equipment may have played a factor,” he said.