Search Continues One Year Later for Cave Diver

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

Ponce de Leon- August 18, 2010 was the last time anyone saw cave diver Ben McDaniel alive.

"It's just like he vanished," Ben's brother, Tim McDaniel, told News Channel 7.

McDaniel, a Tennessee resident, had taken a trip to Vortex Spring to try out what's considered to be one of the most dangerous underwater caves in the world. There's even a locked gate at the entrance, but Holmes County Sheriff's Investigators said he made it in.

"We have witnesses to indicate he did make that dive but never exited the spring system," said Holmes County Sheriff's Investigator Harry Hamilton.

So how did McDaniel make it past the gate? Further investigation has revealed one of the park employees, Eduardo Taran, unlocked it for him.

"We believe there's some silence going on that we're not sure what it's about," said Tim McDaniel.

Several expert divers have gone into the cave in recent months, and the sheriff's office has even sent in a robotic camera, but there's been no sign of McDaniel.

"We've explored every possibility and we'll continue to explore every possibility," said Hamilton.

There are rumors McDaniel had been struggling with the recent death of his younger brother and had fallen on hard times, reasons some say he staged his disappearance. His family said that's not true.

"He had some struggles. He was definitely working through them, and as I stated previously he's the happiest he's been in a long time," said Tim McDaniel.

The family is offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to McDaniel, but they said after one year, they don't think he's still alive.


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