When a snowmobile goes through the ice, these are the guys who find it

Having no luck in finding a sunken quad at this site, commercial diver John Sullivan, center, comes up from a dive to consult with fellow diver Tim Van Dusen about where to look next. Sullivan can see only four feet in front of him when underwater. In this instance, Van Dusen and Sullivan returned for a successful recovery eight days after the quad sank. Photo by Cindy Schultz
Patience, gear, experience rank high with professional ice divers – By James M. Odato

The wind whipped across Saratoga Lake, snuffing out John Sullivan’s cigarette. A quarter-mile from shore, he hovered over a hole in the 10-inch-thick ice. Determination lined his face as he searched for the quad that had eluded his crew of divers for 90 minutes. It should have become the second four-wheeler they’d salvaged that late February day.

“Ninety percent is locating it,” Sullivan said. He pointed to a spot on the ice 30 paces away and barked directions to four men with ropes, chainsaws and augers.

Sullivan, 55, whose day job is bulldozer operator, has been diving for three decades. He is one of a small league of divers who drop into lakes in and around the Adirondacks in all seasons. They pull up things as small as muddy diamond rings and as large as 65-foot-long tugboats. 

It’s risky, and lucrative.


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