POLICE are baffled as to how veteran diver Andrew Houston drowned while scuba diving in shallow water.
Police choppers discovered Mr Houston’s body about 50m from the shore of Middle Brighton beach about 1pm today.
Mr Houston was not trapped under the water but was wearing his full scuba diving equipment, including tank and mask.
The 52-year-old father of three ran into trouble sometime after setting out from the Brighton Sea Baths about 12pm yesterday. Relatives reported him missing about 7pm after he did not return home.
Snr-Sgt Dalton said something had clearly gone wrong during Mr Houston’s recreational dive in yesterday’s good conditions.
But Snr-Sgt Dalton said police did not believe his death was suspicious.
“All I can say is that he was found in his diving gear, lying on the bottom,” he said.
“We don’t know how he got there, whether he ran into difficulty, so that will be for the Coroner.
“I don’t know if he had any air left or what might have happened to him.
“He was quite close to shore and in quite shallow water as well.
“Something has clearly gone wrong; what that is at this stage we aren’t sure.”
Mr Houston’s relatives were too overwhelmed with grief to speak at the scene. About 10 of his family members including his partner, mum and two daughters, embraced and sobbed when police delivered the news of their grim discovery.
“The family are very upset. Very upset,” Snr-Sgt Dalton said.
The body will be taken to the Coroner this afternoon.
Earlier today, police Sen-Sgt Dalton said police had deployed divers, air wing and the dog squad in the search.
“We’ve been searching all night, all day, we have police resources doing all we can,” he said.
SES and Air Wing crews were combing the 3km stretch of the bay.
Mr Houston, who was alone, regularly dived in the reef and relatives said he grew up in the water.
Mr Houston’s mother, Caroline Wilson, arrived at the scene this morning after being alerted to her son’s disappearance on a radio bulletin.
“I was lying in bed and I heard them say a diver in his 50s from Carnegie had gone missing off Brighton,” Ms Wilson said.
“I put the pieces together and just thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s Andrew’.
“Then I saw a text message from Livinia (Andrew’s partner) asking me to ring her…I didn’t know what to say. That’s how I got the news.”
Ms Wilson said she now understood why her son had not contacted her to pass on his Mother’s Day wishes yesterday.
“Ever since he was a boy he loved the water. He loved fishing,” she said.
The man’s silver Daewoo remained parked in the Brighton Baths car park, about 50m away from the pier.
The area has been cordoned off by police tape.
Mr Houston has had problems in the water at Port Phillip before, in 2011 he used a spanner and piece of wood to dislodge a Port Jackson shark that latched onto his leg for 20 minutes.
Mr Houston wrestled with the shark for 10 minutes while in the water, before a passerby helped him into shore.
The metre-long Port Jackson shark hung on for another 10 minutes until Mr Houston was able to prise the beast off with the spanner. He then released the shark back into the sea.
“When it first bit me I freaked out,” Mr Houston said at the time.
“Someone got me a spanner because we just couldn’t get it to let go.”
The shark eventually gave in and Mr Houston threw it back in the water.
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