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Federal Way woman drowns in diving incident off Orcas Island

" A Federal Way mother of two young children died in almost 90 feet of water near Orcas Island Friday evening, after she dove down to free the anchor to her and her husband’s vessel.Patricia MacFarlane, 47, was last seen alive at 4:45 p.m. Friday by her husband and diving partner, Tom MacFarlane. Her body was found by divers Saturday at a depth of 87 feet. It was the second diving death in a week near Orcas Island, and the third water-related death near Orcas in the past two weeks.San Juan County Dive Team captain Jeff Asher said the MacFarlanes and their children, ages 9 and 12, were vacationing in the San Juans. Although cause of death hasn’t been officially determined, it appears MacFarlane ran out of air in her tank.MacFarlane and her husband had made three dives Friday afternoon, and came up around 4:45 p.m. Tom MacFarlane swam to the couple’s vessel, and discovered the anchor appeared to be stuck. Patricia MacFarlane then dove down to free the anchor.Asher said she only had 500 pounds of air in her tank, a minimal amount for a dive of 90 feet. “I wouldn’t want to find myself at 90 feet with 500 pounds of air,” he said.Tom MacFarlane felt two tugs on the anchor line, then saw a large amount of bubbles on the surface, said Asher. MacFarlane became alarmed and jumped in the water, but his mask broke and he was not able to go down to any kind of depth. He then called for help on his radio. The call originally came in at the Port of Friday Harbor, which called 911.The county’s dive team was dispatched at about 5:03 p.m. By 5:35 p.m., divers began their search.The U.S. Coast Guard and Vessel Assist San Juan were also on scene. Vessel Assist used its vessel to mark the spot where Patricia MacFarlane was believed to have last been seen. Making the search more difficult was the fact that the MacFarlane’s vessel had drifted, and Tom MacFarlane was not certain of the exact spot where his wife had entered the water, said Asher.Dive team members were later joined by four divers from a Royal Canadian Mounted Police vessel.Asher said divers went down as deep as 100 to 115 feet, and found MacFarlane’s yellow flashlight at 50 feet. At 8:45 p.m., the search was called off for the night.Saturday afternoon, divers discovered MacFarlane’s body at 87 feet. Asher said MacFarlane’s air tank was completely empty. “It was bone dry,” he said.Pierre LaBossiere is a reporter for The Islands’ Sounder, a Sound Publishing newspaper."

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