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Remains found in underwater cave off Santa Cruz Island could be 2020 missing diver

22-108 Divers at Mouth of Cave_.jpg
Posted at 3:45 PM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-14 18:45:12-05

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a diver whose remains were recovered from the water near Painted Cave Preserve on Santa Cruz Island.

Sheriff's officials say they were notified of the remains on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, by two recreational divers who spotted the body near the ocean floor in an underwater cave in the Seal Cove area.

The sheriff's office worked with several other regional agencies to plan a recovery operation. That operation took place on Friday, Nov. 11, and the remains were recovered.

According to the sheriff's office, the location where the remains were found corresponds to a missing diver investigation from 2020; however, the coroner is still working to identify the deceased diver.

Ryder Sturt, 34, of Port Hueneme was diving for lobster on November 29, 2020, when he failed to resurface. His dive partner radioed for help from the Coast Guard, and despite hours of searching, Sturt was never found.

Investigators reportedly plan to utilize rapid DNA technology to confirm the diver's identity. They expect that to be completed next week.

Sheriff's officials will release the diver's identity once next-of-kin have been notified.