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July 14, 2014 05:00 PM

Minnehaha County Diver Remembered

Sioux Falls, SD

The member of the Minnehaha County Dive Team who was pulled from the waters of Family Park in Sioux Falls has died.  43-year-old Jeff Thumma had to be rescued during a training exercise last Thursday.   While investigators are still trying to figure out what went wrong, the diving community is taking the news especially hard.

Officials say Thumma pulled on the rope four times during the training Thursday signaling there was a problem, but authorities are still trying to figure out what exactly went wrong.

Doug Brockhouse, a senior leader for the team, was also diving that day.  He can't talk about the investigation, but does say Thumma was a quiet man who was well liked.

"It's a tragic situation; Jeff was a really loved member of the team.  Jeff was always someone we could depend on," Brockhouse said.

The Minnehaha County Emergency Management Dive Team consists of 12 certified divers who train monthly to stay proficient for river and lake rescues. 

"Many of our divers start out as recreational divers and once they get 20, 30, or 40 dives under their belt, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it is because of the complexity, we then look at those individuals that are in our community.  They are the good ones, the cream of the crop," Minnehaha County Emergency Manager Lynn DeYoung said.

Though they are all volunteers, Thumma spent a lot of time honing his diving skills. 

"He probably had 150 to 300 dives. That was one of the most junior people we had on board, but he had a lot of diver experience," Brockhouse said.

Many in the diving community are struggling with the loss of a friend and colleague who volunteered his time to help others.

"It's a tragic event both for us and the community and family.  It doesn't happen, it shouldn't happen, but there are accidents and we are going to get down and figure out what happened," DeYoung said.

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