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Dive team surpasses fund-raising goal

January 12, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Members of a Berkeley County dive team who hope to take to the water to fight crime now have the equipment they need thanks to a supportive community.

Old rock quarries in the area that now are filled with water have been a favorite place to dump stolen items over the years, authorities say.

But there was little authorities could do because they did not have the appropriate equipment for diving in the cold waters, said Glen Stickel, a member of the Berkeley County Dive Team.

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To change that, members started a campaign last July to raise at least $3,600 to buy dry suits for the four-person team.

Team members ended up raising about $4,200 for the equipment, allowing them to purchase four suits instead of three as originally planned, Stickel said.

The donations came from businesses and private individuals, Stickel said, adding that the private donations were as high as $1,700.

"Within two weeks, we had all the money. We really appreciate the contributions," Stickel said Sunday.

Quarries have been a favorite spot to dump a variety of stolen merchandise, including cars, guns, jewelry and computers, Stickel said.

Stickel said people dump stolen goods in the lakes to avoid getting caught with them. Cars often are stripped and dumped into the lakes, Stickel said.

Old quarries, which now are deep lakes, are scattered throughout Berkeley and Jefferson counties, Stickel said, adding that there are at least five in the Bunker Hill, W.Va., area.

Members of the dive team hope to explore the quarries periodically to look for stolen goods, Stickel said.

Dry suits are designed to protect divers from the cold temperatures in the quarries, which are fed by springs, Stickel has said.

After descending 15 to 20 feet in the quarries, the temperature drops by about 20 degrees, Stickel said. At the bottom, which can be down 100 feet, the temperature can drop to about 40 degrees, Stickel said.

Members of the dive team have not tested the new equipment because some members have yet to receive training for the suits, Stickel said. The dry suits can inflate, causing users to quickly rise to the surface, said Cpl. Ron Gardner of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Divers need to learn how to control that, Gardner said.

Members of the team include Stickel, Gardner, and Sgt. Russell Shackelford and Deputy Will Henderson of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

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