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South Pas Divers Describe Finding Body of Rebecca Weiss

Her body was found at the Palos Verdes Peninsula—a popular spot for these locals who plan monthly beach and boat dives in the area.

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA — A recreational scuba dive Sunday turned ugly when four members of the Pasadena-based dive club Sole Searchers found the .

"Her family members actually gave us fliers before we went into the water," South Pas resident Kaz Aizawa told Patch. "What are the odds? ... There's no way we thought we would find her."

Weiss, 50, didn't return home from free diving on the afternoon of Aug. 11 as planned, and her husband, Alan Weiss, went looking for her at their normal diving spot, authorities said. He found her car parked in a public access lot near in Rancho Palos Verdes and her bag near the beach.

for the missing Marina del Rey resident following her disappearance. But with no results, friends and family walked the beach Saturday, passing out her photo and spreading information of her disappearance.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula is a popular dive spot for the Sole Searchers, who plan monthly beach and boat dives in the area.

"The visibility was about 8 to 10 feet at the start when we entered the water," explained Aizawa.

He and South Pasadena resident Jimmy Quan were paired off and stayed close together throughout the dive.

As they were making their way back, they discovered Weiss' body about 70 yards away from shore and 40 feet down at what they call "Old Marineland," said Quan. 

"We both saw her fins first. And then as we got closer, we saw her whole body. We were initially really in disbelief; to me, it was unreal," Quan told Patch.

"We found her lying on her back in the sand—almost like she was laying there sleeping," explained Aizawa. "There were no entanglements of any sort. ... She had no scuba tank, but she did have her mask, snorkel, fins, and was wearing a full wetsuit with a hood."

Aizawa and South Pasadena resident Jimmy Quan first tried to attach a dive light to her as a marker but were unsuccessful.

"Next thing I remember, Jimmy undid the weight belt (around Weiss' waist), and we slowly ... gently got her to the surface," Aizawa said.

It is typical for a free diver to wear a weight belt, according to the Sole Searchers. While scuba divers use compressed air; free divers—like Weiss—use their own breath but need the weight belt to get deep in the water.

With Quan holding her ankles and fins, the two attempted to send a message to shore. That's when Pasadena residents—and fellow Sole Searcher divers—Lars Dennert and Dave Gaines surfaced to help.

The group was instructed (via megaphone) by a deputy to stay out on the water with her until a lifeguard boat came to pick her up. It was about 40 minutes before it did, said Aizawa, and the group of divers then exited to the roped-off cove and met the family. "Her sister gave me a big hug and said thank you," recalled Quan.

"I talked to the mother and the brother and gave them my condolences; it was really emotional and pretty tough. But we feel we did the right thing bringing her up to the surface," said Aizawa.

"If we had just left a marker, they may have not found her."

Following an autopsy on Sunday, to determine the cause of death, said a Los Angeles County Coroner's Office spokesperson.

Involvement of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau in the search spurred speculation that the disappearance had turned into a possible murder case; however, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau told the Los Angeles Times that the bureau also investigates drownings as part of its mission.

Investigators have no reason to disbelieve the account given by the missing woman's husband and have no person of interest in the case, the lieutenant said.

Detectives interviewed Alan Weiss on Wednesday as part of normal police procedure, and he gave investigators the same information that he gave them when he reported his wife missing. He has cooperated fully with the missing persons investigation, Francisco said.

She declined to answer any questions relating to surveillance video from the resort.

Anyone who may have seen Weiss diving on Aug. 11 should contact the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Weiss was wearing no snorkel or mask. Patch regrets the error.

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renfairewench August 21, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Blessings and many thanks to those that recovered her body. My condolences go out to her family. So sad.
Just My Opinion August 21, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Very sad story. But, aren't you ALWAYS suppose to dive with a 'buddy'? Condolences to her family
Wendei Spale August 22, 2012 at 05:19 AM
Yes, you're "supposed" to dive with a buddy, but she did this all the time. People do things they shouldn't all the time and take risks. This one turned out tragic. It's not unusual for free-divers to go alone. I didn't even know what free diving was until I googled it. I knew my cousin and Rebecca did it a lot but didn't know what it was until he called me to tell me that she never came home. When I googled it I was shocked. Apparently it's considered the 2nd most dangerous sport. He's grateful to all who were involved in searching for her and to those of you who helped bring closure to a very difficult week. We are grieving but take comfort in knowing that she loved the water and as someone here said, she died doing what she loved.
Nicole Mooradian August 22, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Hi Wendei, Like everyone, I was desperately hoping for a happy ending to this story. My condolences to you, your cousin and the rest of the family.
Lynda Pealer December 31, 2012 at 06:26 PM
What did the surveillance video show? Is it normal for keys and such to be left on shore? Lynda

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