Local/State

Duck boat diver: "You might have nightmares"

Monday, July 12, 2010
Duck boat salvage diver A student from Hungary throws one of five wreaths into the Delaware River following a memorial service for Szabolcs Prem and Dora Schwendtner, Saturday, July 10, 2010 in Philadelphia. The two students from Hungary died in a collision between a tourist boat and a barge on Wednesday, July 7, on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Szabolcs Prem and Dora Schwendtner Szabolcs Prem and Dora Schwendtner Duck boat recovered from Delaware River after accident

When his time came to go underwater and help salvage the sunken duck boat that was struck and sank in a crash on the Delaware River, Hector Aguilar's reaction came from his gut.

At the time Aguilar went down on Friday, Prem was still missing and presumed dead.

"There's always that 'sick stomach' feeling. You do want to find him so you can close something for the family, but at the same time you know you might have nightmares about it," Aguilar said.

Because he was down at the site of the wreck, Aguilar found himself becoming a part of the police investigation.

"The police want to know if he's in the vessel as soon as you get there. You do a sweep around and see if we can locate him," said Aguilar.

Eventually, Prem's body was spotted floating in the Delaware. His body was recovered just minutes after the duck boat was brought to the surface.

On Thursday, rescue dives were suspended because visibility was so poor in the water, something Aguilar saw first-hand.

"Very dark and murky. It was hard in the beginning, we had the tide turning around at that point so the first 10-15 minutes of the dive the tide was pretty hard," Aguilar said.

After they found the boat, police divers hooked a line to it so it could be found again, something that became invaluable on subsequent dives.

"Basically you have to hold on very tight," Aguilar said, adding the tide could be enough to take him away.

Once at the wreckage of the duck boat, it was Aguilar's job to put the straps around it so it could be lifted out by a barge-mounted crane.

"Once it breaks the surface, you have a certain kind of relief," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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pennsylvania, philadelphia, duck boat accident, drowning, local/state
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