A 34-year-old Lodi man with a passion for scuba diving and fishing died along with a 37-year-old Stockton man in a scuba diving accident in the old Jamestown mine off Harvard Mine Road in Tuolumne County, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff Wilson.
The Lodi man, identified by deputies as David Allen Dedic, was known as Dale Dedic, according to a co-worker at San Joaquin Drywall in Stockton, and Russ Faught, a friend of Dedic.
The San Joaquin Drywall employee, who declined to give her name, confirmed Dedic’s identity, saying that his mother phoned the business’ owner Sunday night. Faught said that Dedic’s stepfather confirmed Dale Dedic’s death on Monday.
The Stockton man was identified as Jamie Pollard, according to a news release from the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Wilson, Dedic and Pollard were scuba diving Saturday afternoon when Pollard panicked. He was raised to the surface, but died at Sonora Regional Medical Center. Dedic’s body was found about 135 feet deep in the water.
The U.S. Army Corps of engineers deployed special equipment into the mine to lift Dedic’s body from the mine, Wilson said in the news release. It was removed Monday evening.
“He was one of my very good friends,” said Russ Faught, who owns The Fisherman’s Friend and writes a fishing column in the News-Sentinel. “He’s a very nice young man.”
Malee Raphael, a Lodi resident, referred to Dedic as not only a friend, but close like a brother.
“He was a well-trained scuba diver, as that was one of his passions. He loved it,” she said. A fellow diver who dove with Dedic many times, Raphael said she would trust him with her life.
“We who knew him know that he died doing what he loved,” she said.
Dedic, who just celebrated his birthday last week, helped found the Central Valley Anglers fishing club and was at one time the club’s president, according to Faught.
“He would come into my shop a couple of times a month and shoot the bull,” he said.
However, Faught didn’t see Dedic as often in recent months because he was more interested in scuba diving than fishing.
“He was a very, very intelligent young man,” Faught said. “He learned everything he could about things. I know he was somewhat of an expert on computers. He bailed me out time and again.”
A Tokay High School graduate, Dedic was single and listed his interests as scuba diving, boating and camping, according to his Facebook page. He was a driver supervisor for San Joaquin Drywall.
The Harvard Mine pit was one of several sites in the area that yielded more than 660,000 ounces of gold during mining efforts by a private company between 1986 and 1994, according to records.
A report from the U.S. Geological Survey in the late 1990s, however, showed that a large amount of arsenic and other toxic chemicals were found in the water.
Wilson told the Modesto Bee that locals frequently use the old mine, which is on private property, as a swimming hole and divers have been known to explore the area. The rising water table from all the precipitation has been filling the pit with water.
The pit is used with permission by divers for training, according to Raphael.
News-Sentinel staff writer Jennifer Bonnett contributed to this report.
Anyone who would like to share their thoughts about Dedic or Pollard may contact reporter Ross Farrow at 369-7035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.