Texas volunteer dive team working to help their community

BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS)—The Bowie County Dive Team is a non-profit group that performs underwater search and recovery for individuals and local law enforcement agencies in the Bowie County area and beyond.

“We’re all volunteers. We have different walks of people. We have firefighters, police officers, just regular civilians.” says Chris Avard, the dive team’s President.

They are often called to retrieve cars, boats, or belongings, like during a recent mission on Wright Patman Lake.

“A ski boat went behind him. The wake overtook the back of the boat. The boat sank, luckily they had their life jackets. But his main concern… was his truck keys, his wallet, his cell phone, everything was in the console of the boat.” says Erick Turner, the dive team’s Vice President.

Sometimes though, the stakes are much higher.

“You know, if you’ve ever seen a family that’s lost a loved one into the water that hasn’t been found in a day or two and they know they saw him go in. They want that person back, they want the closure.” says Turner, “That’s why I do it, you know, takes a, takes a determined person to do what we do, not everybody’s cut out for it.”

The training and skill needed go well beyond what is needed on traditional dives.

“Recreational diving is going to pretty places with nice clear water where you see things and what, where we dive, we don’t see anything. It’s all black, what we call black water diving, it’s all by touch. If you have a foot visibility, that’s unusual.” says Chris Sutherland, the dive team’s training coordinator and safety officer.

They are the only group in Bowie County certified to do this work, which they say is vital to the community.

“Nobody knows they need us until they need us. And that’s usually when the worst things happened.” says Turner.

Their entire budget comes from fundraisers and donations.

Turner had a long list of expenses that the team faced.

“Those funds are used to buy new equipment to repair equipment, to put tires on our vehicles. You know, we run up and down the roads, you know, and dragging our boats and our trailers… Maintenance on our truck. It’s an older fire truck that we purchased from the county. We buy new equipment with it such as our BCD’s, computers, masks, weights ropes a lot goes into it. You know, we had a lift bag that got damaged, pulling a boat out in Greeson a couple weeks ago, you know, that lift bags 5 or $600 you know, it happens its 10 year old lift bag but, you know, things like that and that’s where that funding goes…. Boat fuel isn’t cheap, you know. So other than that, I mean, it’s just mostly training missions, you know, gotta keep abreast, we gotta get new members up to speed things of that nature… Other than that, insurance, you know, we have to have insurance on ourselves, our vehicles, our boats.”

If you would like to donate, you can Venmo them or mail a check to 1910 N. Kings Hwy #903, Nash, TX, 75569.

They also encourage anyone who would like to know more about what they do and how they can help to reach out to them on Facebook.

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