A diver with Lower Burrell Volunteer Fire Department No. 3 died yesterday as a result of a diving accident in the line of duty Saturday, Fire Chief Mark Marmo said in a release. Michael Switala, 50, of Oregon Drive in Lower Burrell, was an 18-year member of the department, having served in several offices within the organization, Marmo said.
Scott Camerlo, of Scott’s Scuba in Freeport, said Switala was participating in a night diving exercise at a lake near Slippery Rock when the accident occurred.
“It appears to have been some type of medical condition that caused him to go unconscious under water,” Camerlo said.
Switala’s diving buddy during the exercise saw that Switala’s mouthpiece to his air tanks was out of his mouth and that Switala appeared to be unconscious, Camerlo said.
The diving buddy brought Switala to the surface where Camerlo and three others in the diving group performed CPR until emergency medical workers arrived, Camerlo said.
Switala was first taken to United Community Hospital in nearby Grove City, Lawrence County, then transferred to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Oakland, Camerlo said.
The Allegheny County coroner’s office said Switala’s death was a result of accidental drowning.