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Van Damme State Beach, Mendocino County--

An abalone diver who drowned on Labor Day at Van Damme State Beach has been identified by the Mendocino County Sheriffs Office as John R. Williams of Santa Rosa.

Williams, who was 46, left his Santa Rosa home at 5 AM on Monday for the popular abalone diving spot, and when he did not return home by 6:40 PM his wife called the California Highway Patrol and a search was initiated.

A Coast Guard helicopter from Humbolt Bay spotted Williams body the next morning a quarter mile from shore in only three feet of water at the "keyhole," a hole in an offshore rock formation. Williams had been diving alone.

The drowning marred an otherwise safe recreational season for State Parks in Mendocino County.


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