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Friends remember scuba diver as kind with love for outdoors

May 11, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown woman who died Saturday while scuba diving off the coast of North Carolina was remembered by friends Tuesday as a kind person with a passion for the outdoors.

Corrine Pierce, 50, of Hagerstown, died near Carolina Beach after attempts to revive her were unsuccessful, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Kendrick said the cause of Pierce's death was unknown Tuesday afternoon.

The Coast Guard said Pierce received CPR from people on her dive vessel until a 41-foot Coast Guard rescue boat carrying emergency personnel from the New Hanover County, N.C., Fire Department arrived. She was transferred to the rescue boat and later was pronounced dead, the Coast Guard said.

David Smithey, co-owner of Cape Fear Dive Center in Carolina Beach, which is about 15 miles south of Wilmington, said the divers were 20 miles off shore exploring the wreckage of the SS John D. Gill.

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Smithey said the dive was about 84 feet below the surface.

"The diver appeared to be well qualified to do that dive," Smithey said. "Everything appeared to be normal until she surfaced."

Chris Marschner, who was in a local scuba-diving club with Pierce, said he was shocked when he heard the news.

He said Pierce and her husband, Joe, were experienced divers.

"Corrine was a great person," Marschner said. "... If I needed some help with something, she and Joe would be there to help. They were just lovely people."

Marschner said Pierce was involved in several activities in the community.

In addition to scuba diving, she was an avid quilter and belonged to The Friendship Quilters Guild of Hagerstown.

Patty Prodonovich said she and other members of the guild heard about Pierce's death in an e-mail that was sent Monday morning.

"The first thing that ran through my mind, 'I knew she was a diver,'" Prodonovich said. "I thought there was a diving accident."

Prodonovich said the guild probably would spend part of its meeting Tuesday night discussing something to do in Pierce's memory.

"She was creative," Prodonovich said. "It was a shock. She'll be missed. It was very sad."

Timothy Artlip and Wilbur Hershberger were Pierce's co-workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Kearneysville, W.Va.

"She was very dedicated, very meticulous" Hershberger said. "She really enjoyed life and the outdoors."

Pierce was a technician in the USDA's apple biotechnology program, Artlip said. Part of her research involved finding ways to fight diseases in apple trees.

"I've suffered a very personal and professional loss," Artlip said. "I considered her a friend. She's going to be missed for a very long time."

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