Diver Working Under IP Casino Barge In Critical Condition

Five days a week, professional divers dredge underneath the IP Casino barge with big vacuum hoses sucking silt from underneath the barge. During Tuesday's operation, a diver experienced mechanical problems with his head gear. Now that diver is in critical condition.

"They noticed that he was absent. They have communications with the divers, said he was having problems. They went looking for him, found him and pulled him out, started CPR," said Biloxi Police Captain Harold Windom.

Another diver, Scott Ruhlman, was working on another diving project near by, when he was pulled off that job to help in the rescue of the IP Casino diver.

"Apparently his hat came off his head. And the supervisor, I was down there, said he heard him say, 'My hat came off, what do I do?' That's the last he heard of him. He kind of heard a loud gurgling noise where something wasn't right," Ruhlman told WLOX News.

By the time Ruhlman arrived on the scene, the diver in trouble was located and pulled from the water. He helped provide CPR.

"The welders were over there, the welders helped us and we probably did CPR 10 or 15 minutes and the ambulance came and started everything," Ruhlman said.

Ruhlman said this kind of diving operation isn't generally dangerous.

"It's pretty safe. We've got a lot of backup, we have emergency backups, two of them. With accidents like this, you know, it's scary," Ruhlman said. "You're down in an area where you can't see anything. It's underneath the casino barge. If the hat comes off your head, you can't see anything. It's a scary situation."

Federal safety investigators are looking into the accident. The maintenance project to clear the IP Casino barge of silt has been on going since Hurricane Katrina.