Family of missing diver offers $10k reward

By: David E. Demarest
By: David E. Demarest

Panama City -- The family of a man who seemingly vanished while diving in Vortex Springs is now offering a hefty reward for information that leads to the location of Ben McDaniel or his body.

McDaniel’s truck was found in the Vortex Springs parking lot, in Ponce de Leon, and during the course of multiple well-planned search and recovery dives made by some of the top-cave divers in the world, and other searches that employed submersible remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s), only Ben’s three decompression tanks were found at the mouth of the cave, unused.

McDaniel was last seen entering the cave at 7:30 p.m., August 18, 2010, alone. In addition to cave diving experts, local authorities have logged hundreds of man-hours and used K-9 teams to search the area around the springs, to no avail. Now his family hopes that a $10,000 reward will help turn up information that could bring peace to his family.

Holmes County Sheriff Tim Brown says law enforcement has tried everything they can to locate McDaniel.

"We had people out there for what seemed like forever. We've been back time and time again, diving in that cave. It would just be nice if we could come up with something," said Brown.

Ben’s mother lost her other son, Paul, an avid mountaineer who died unexpectedly of a stroke just two years before Ben’s disappearance. In that case, the family takes some consolation in knowing other lives may be saved through stroke prevention efforts headed by the Paul A. McDaniel foundation, and they also take pride in knowing that Paul’s decision to have his organs donated allowed many others to go ahead with surgeries that would not have otherwise been possible. However, in the case of Ben’s disappearance there has been no such solace.

If you can help solve this mystery, and bring the McDaniel family some measure of peace, please call the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office at 850-547-3681.

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