Dead scuba diver had been missing 26 years

Peter Devoe, who went missing Mar. 13, 1985, following a fatal family dive in North Vancouver,...

Peter Devoe, who went missing Mar. 13, 1985, following a fatal family dive in North Vancouver, B.C., was identified by coroners Dec. 7, 2011, following the recovery of his body in October. He is seen in this 1982 photo at a marathon in Hawaii. (B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association photo)

Michael Mui, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:18 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- It had been 26 years since anyone last laid eyes on well-known wheelchair scuba diver Peter Devoe, who failed to resurface after a 1985 family dive at Cates Park in North Vancouver.

Devoe, who was 29 when he disappeared, was finally recovered in the Burrard Inlet by a pair of commercial fishers in October.

Coroners said Wednesday they identified his remains by the jewelry he wore and telltale marks on his bones from a car accident.

His body was surprisingly well-preserved within his full-body scuba suit, despite floating in the inlet for almost three decades. His remains were found just west of where he vanished during a dive with his brother on March 13, 1985.

His body never floated out of the bay, and was anchored down in the calm waters by his weighty equipment, Coroner Stephen Fonseca said.

Speaking from her home, Robin Devoe recalled the day her brother-in-law went missing after heading out for a dive with her husband.

“Peter just never came up,” she said. “It hasn’t hit home yet. He was a great person, he competed in wheelchair sports, was really concerned about other people in wheelchairs.”

She said Devoe founded a 20-member wheelchair scuba diving club in 1983, and helped others with disabilities discover a new way to enjoy life.

“For somebody with spinal cord injuries, it’s the freedom of being away from a wheelchair,” she said.

Kathy Newman, executive director of the B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association, recalled her first meeting with the athlete three decades ago.

“He was like a role model for other people that wanted to get involved in wheelchair sports,” she said, adding Devoe was admired for his endless support to sports for youth with disabilities.

“That’s why we decided naming the Peter Devoe Memorial Award after him,” Newman said of the scholarship fund that was established the same year Devoe went missing.

“He was a fantastic person.”


Videos

Photos