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    Wednesday, June 19, 2019-7:31:20P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Court declares missing diver dead

SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho issued an order on Friday stating that “John Joseph Jones was exposed to a specific peril of death and after a diligent search could not be found.”

Judge Camacho directed the CNMI Registrar of Vital Statistics to prepare a death certificate marked “presumptive” for John J. Jones, indicating that he died on Nov. 18, 2018.

The judge also directed the registrar to have the date of the order be shown on the death certificate.

Madelyn Ann Jones, a resident of Renton, Washington State, earlier asked the court to direct the CNMI registrar to prepare a death certificate establishing a presumption of death for her husband, John J. Jones, on Nov. 18, 2018. She is represented by attorney Rexford C. Kosack.

Mr. Jones, 65, a Federal Aviation Administration employee, went missing after scuba diving with three other persons at the Grotto in November.

According to his wife’s petition, Mr. Jones left behind a wife of 46 years, two children, five grandchildren and his mother.

Mr. Jones was one of two FAA employees temporarily detailed to Saipan to help repair the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport after it was damaged by Super Typhoon Yutu.

He and another FAA employee went diving on Nov. 18, 2018 for a weekend relaxation. The two entered the waters to scuba dive at the Grotto with two other divers, who were both dive instructors.

Mr. Jones and the other FAA employee were led on a dive tour as customers of a diving company when they went diving that day.

The four divers entered the water at the Grotto, submerged and swam together through one of the underwater passages.

When the four divers were outside the Grotto, Mr. Jones signaled to one of the dive instructors that he was running low on air. At that time, Mr. Jones was about 30 feet below the ocean’s surface.

The dive instructor “signaled to Mr. Jones with an ‘OK’ sign, a ‘thumbs up’ sign, and the blade of his hand pointing towards the passage. [The dive instructor] intended to communicate to [Mr.] Jones that they were OK, they would swim through the passage and then surface. He does not recall whether [Mr.] Jones responded to his signs.”

The dive instructor then used hand signals to inform the other dive instructor and FAA employee that they all should return to the Grotto.

After that, the dive instructor turned back to Mr. Jones but he was no longer there.

The two dive instructors searched up and down the cliffline outside the Grotto, but they were unable to find Mr. Jones.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, the CNMI Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services and the CNMI Department of Public Safety searched for Mr. Jones for several days. The search was suspended on Nov. 24, 2018.