Submarine’s Search Finds Shipwrecks, But No Missing Body
Raymond Siler, an investigative technologist from Red Hook, N.Y., put together a team of experts in an attempt to locate a man who drowned in Lake George in 1993 but their search turned up empty. Edison Arias’s body never surfaced from its watery grave and its whereabouts remain a mystery.
Siler, 50, owns a company called A.R.M. (American Response for the Missing). Siler solicited help in the search from Mark Trezza, 55, and Dave Trezza, 43. The two cousins started Marine Engineering Group (M.E.G.) two years ago after acquiring a 1981 two-man submarine and restoring it to better-than-new condition. Siler needed the sub in case the body was located at a depth unreachable by SCUBA divers.
According to Mark Trezza, the sub was designed and built by Capt. George Kitterage in 1981 to be used for bridge inspections in Maine for a number of years before it was brought to New York. “It sat in a garage for 26 years,” Mark said.
Mark said his cousin is a mechanical engineer who is Senior Project Leader with Consumer Reports Magazine. “Dave did all the interior work including all new wiring and I did all the exterior work,” Mark said. Mark would not put an exact dollar figure on what the sub is worth but he said with a grin, “think house…it’s in the six-figure number.”
Siler said planning for the search began about nine months ago and it culminated with several people from near and far joining in the effort. Siler said he has never had an investigation go so smoothly as this one. “A.R.M and M.E.G. rely heavily on our team members but we also rely on local experts who we recruit to approach a situation with all available knowledge,” Siler said.
Siler said collaboration with other experts allowed the search to be done in a methodical manner with an emphasis on economy. “Most everyone had to give up something to be here with us,” he said. “Special thanks go out to the DEC people on Green Island, North Queensbury Fire Department and the Lake George Park Commission who stood behind the scene to make everything happen,” he said. “Jeff Smith gave up three charters to help us. We had a PLS (position last seen) and he took us to the exact location. We swept that whole area the first day out.”
Siler said the Salem, Mass. police department assisted in the search by deploying the most sophisticated sonar available today. “That Klein system is Homeland Security-like stuff. You can see the bottom in real-time and it’s all saved on a USB drive,” he said.
Siler was referring to L-3 Klein, a sonar manufacturer that employs multi-beam side scan sonar technology, the advantage of which is near photo-like images of the lake bottom. L-3 Klein sent Tim Alavosus, their lead trainer, to operate the sophisticated equipment. According to the company’s website, L-3 Klein’s dynamically-focused, multi-beam side scan sonar system delivers constant along-track resolution with 100% bottom coverage which is two to three times higher than possible with single beam systems.
Siler said the Warren County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the operation as well. “They helped with safety issues…they secured the area where we were working. Their dive team stood by for hours and hours, just to make sure everything was OK with us. That level of support I’m just not used to,” he said.
Siler said the Aquatic Explores Dive Club from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. was on hand as well to monitor the operation of the sub during two practice dives. Dave Trezza took the sub down 50 feet after launching at Hall’s Marina in Lake George and descended to the depth of about 40 feet in Sawmill Bay after being launched at the DEC facility on Green Island.
Siler said even though Arias’ body was not found they did make some surprising discoveries. “We found three boats in the search area (off Fish Point) and one boat outside the search area…one boat had an anchor hanging off it,” he said. “We found two or three debris log-piles which were probably on a boat that sank and numerous other objects, that were hard to tell what they were, but we could tell because of their size they were not what we were looking for,” he said.
Siler said after the search was completed he came away with the feeling that “he’s just not there. “When they scan with that sonar it’s just like you’re going to the moon…that’s how clear it is. It’s incredible to see all the divots in the bottom where someone forgot to pull their anchor up and we could see where it dragged across the bottom.”