NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Two members of a Navy dive unit are facing involuntary manslaughter and dereliction-of-duty charges in the drowning of two divers at Aberdeen Proving Ground near Baltimore.
The unidentified defendants, both Navy senior leaders, appeared in military court at Naval Station Norfolk on Wednesday -- both were facing charges of dereliction of duty and involuntary manslaughter.
Each is a member of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two, based in Little Creek-Fort Story.
Navy Diver 1st Class James Reyher of Caldwell, Ohio, and Navy Diver 2nd Class Ryan Harris of Gladstone, Mo., belonged to that unit. They drowned Feb. 26 during a training exercise at the Super Pond underwater weapons-testing facility.
Their deaths came less than a month after that of civilian technician George Lazzaro at the same pond.
The Navy hearing -- a "32 Hearing" similar to a civilian preliminary hearing -- will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a court-martial or if the charges will be dealt with administratively or even dismissed.
10 On Your Side's Military Reporter Art Kohn spent Wednesday at the hearing testimony in that case at Naval Station Norfolk.
Testifying for most of the day was the senior dive supervisor for that day in February, Petty Officer 1st Class Bernardo Alvazon. Alvazon told the court about a series of problems experienced that day that affected almost every diver that entered the water. There were problems with regulators, handling lines, and very limited visibility in extremely cold water.
Alvazon did not say how those problems were related directly to the accused. In fact, the civilian attorney representing one of the defendants raised questions about weather or not Alvazon himself had adequately prepared for the emergency that resulted in the drownings.
The hearing was still underway as of 5:30 p.m., and if it did not finish Wednesday, it will go into Thursday.
The decision about the charges going forward to a court-marshall could take three to four weeks.
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