Hillsborough County
David Gee, Sheriff
Tampa, FL
  • The Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Team (URT) proved itself the best among the best in a recent national competition of dive rescuers. The team donated the $1,500 in prize money to Laura Longway, the widow of Deputy Mark Longway. Mark was killed in a traffic crash in his patrol car on Sept. 21, 2010.

    HCSO’s URT showed its stuff at the International Association of Dive Rescue Specialists at an event in September in Charlotte, N.C. HCSO’s URT earned the privilege of representing Florida by winning the state competition (and $500) among law enforcement and fire rescue divers earlier this year. The winning team members were Deputy J.T. Stahlschmidt and Deputy Karl Scholl.

    At the national event, the events included a 500-yard freestyle swim, 800-yard mask, fin and snorkel swim, 50-yard underwater swim, inert diver tow/100-yard relay, open-water dive rescue swim, underwater navigation, timed search patterns, and equipment assembly and don. Going into the competition, the Salem Police Department had the record time of 52 seconds for the equipment assembly and don and a chance to win $1000 for that single event. Deputies Scholl and Stahlschmidt beat the competition and now hold the record at 47 seconds. Deputies Scholl and Stahlschmidt also won the overall competition. By the way, the two deputies also won all but one of the other events.

    “We learned of Mark’s death in the early morning of the second day of competition,’’ said Deputy Stahlschmidt. The tragedy really inspired us and we knew we had to win for Mark and his family.’’

    The deputies said they could picture Mark’s big smile and hear his contagious laugh, and that gave them the extra spark to be champions.
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