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SAN DIEGO — Authorities say a man in his 70s drowned while he was scuba diving in Mission Bay early Sunday.

Lifeguards got a call around 9 a.m. about a person possibly missing in the water in the area around Mission Point, said San Diego lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero. A dive group said they were supposed to meet the man in the water but couldn’t find him.

Lifeguards immediately started searching the water, wearing snorkels and masks and doing surface dives while a helicopter and boats also patrolled the area. Eventually it was one of the lifeguards with a snorkel who spotted something, Romero said, and a first responder quickly got into scuba gear to get a closer look.

About 15 or 20 feet down in the water, the lifeguard found the missing man and brought him to the surface. He had been underwater for close to two hours, Romero estimated.

Lifeguards did their “best job to give someone a fighting chance,” Romero said, giving the man CPR on the docks until paramedics arrived and took over attempts to revive him, but he was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.

The lieutenant urged people to stay safe when diving: “You always want to dive with a partner … Definitely want to have a dive plan and a backup, emergency plan when you go diving.”

It’s too early to say how the man drowned, Romero said the diver’s scuba gear seemed to be in working order. In fact, he was a professional scuba diver. 

“We just tell people, dive with a partner in case something bad happens that way you can notify someone right away,” said Lt. Romero.