Karrots Nazareno, the wife of missing Tubbataha Reef diver Bryan Nazareno, is seeking the help of coastal residents in municipalities and nearby provinces in the Sulu Sea for any information to find her husband.
Now on Day 6, the search for Bryan around Tubbataha area where he was last seen diving has come up empty.
Karrots is hopeful that he was found by fishermen in the coastal areas of Palawan.“‘Yong asawa ko, si Bryan ay isang diver, at nawawala siya noong June 3. Last siyang nakita sa Tubbataha. Hinahanap namin siya at hanggang ngayon hindi pa namin siya makita. May mga divers na hinahanap siya, we have also mga kaibigan sa military, and we’re all looking for him… air surveillance has also been ongoing, baka sakaling napadpad siya sa inyo at nakita niyo siya, baka may kaibigan kayong mangingisda na may nakita, pakisabi na lang sa pulis ninyo at sa barangay… sana po matulungan niyo kami na mahanap siya,” Karrots said.
Karrots told Palawan News in an interview on Saturday that Bryan flew to Puerto Princesa City on June 1 and boarded M/Y Palausport to arrive in Tubbataha for a first dive on June 2.
She said June 3 was the day Bryan was reported missing to the ranger station of the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) that in turn alerted authorities, including the provincial government.
READ RELATED NEWS: Navy searches for missing diver in Tubbataha Reefs
Karrots narrated that Bryan was with underwater photographer Scott “Gutsy” Tuason and a group of divers before he went missing in Amos Rock, one of the popular diving spots in the marine park.
“He was following Gutsy, and then there was a lady, who was also part of their group, she was taking a video… so there’s also a video showing the last time Bryan was seen. He was following Gutsy, took photos, and then he turned to the video-taking lady and he made a (hand) signal that he will go up. Gutsy was not even gone for like one minute, met up with Bryan, and then… hindi ba when you go up, you don’t go up dire-diretso? Hindi ka puwede. You have to do it at certain stops. So, below there were people doing diving, as they were doing the ascent, there were people above them. Beyond that, there were dive masters watching. He was still in the group, they can still see him. And when they went to… it’s called a decompression stop, you pause at a certain depth and then you do a head count… when they did that pause, he was no longer there,” she said.
Karrots said she was told that at that time, Bryan was already at a depth of around 35-40 meters because he was done diving and preparing to ascend.
The standard operating procedure (SOP), she said, was if he got separated from the dive group, Bryan will go up by himself, do decompression, and release his balloon to go up.
When no one saw him above the water, Tuason went back to look for him.
“When they didn’t see him, the partner went back down. They reported him missing and prepared for a search dive. They went back in and continued to do that. There was no balloon, no bubbles, no nothing,” she said.
Karrots remains hopeful that her husband will be found because, by nature, Bryan is “very calm and does not panic” when presented with dangerous situations.
She said he “is always fully aware of safety precautions and prioritizes safety.”
Bryan has been diving for 20 years and has about 600 dives under his belt, Karrots said.
“He has dove abroad, has been to Tubbataha for like three times so when it comes to experience, he’s very experienced. Bryan’s a recreational videographer and Gutsy is a good friend whom he looks up to when it comes to underwater photography,” she said.
The Nazareno family is working closely with the provincial government to spread missing person notices in coastal areas of the municipalities and provinces in the Sulu Sea where he may have been carried away by the currents.
“How can you give yourself a timeline to find him? He’s my husband… the sea is really just so endless and it’s so easy to feel hopeless, but then you have to… I don’t know, I guess you just have to ground yourself and prepare yourself for the worst… but then keep your hope as deep as the sea. Whatever the result, we will be ready. But we cannot just sit and wait, we have to take action,” she said.
The search and rescue (SAR) operations to find Bryan is led by the Western Command (WESCOM) through the Joint Task Force Integrated Crisis Action Response to Emergencies (I-CARE) being supervised by the Tactical Operations Wing West (TOW West) under its operational control.
Earlier, Lt. Ronne Riel Grimpola, spokesperson of the Naval Forces West (NFW), said a private company has already offered the use of its remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to find Nazareno in the underwater nature reserve.
Police Col. Greg Togonon, chief of the 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group also said Thursday that they have dispatched SAR teams onboard Dauntless Boat SOU 007 on June 5 to search for Bryan in the eastern portion of Narra, Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, and Balabac.
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