Keith A. Copeland saved Robert L. Swift, Jr., from drowning, Cooper Landing, Alaska, January 28, 1963. Swift, 30, paint salesman, Copeland, 40, warehouseman, and another amateur diver were attempting to recover the body of a man from a vehicle which had sunk 140 feet to the bottom of Hidden Lake after breaking through thick ice 600 feet from shore. Each man wore diving equipment weighing about 60 pounds, including a tank of oxygen. After descending to the lake bottom along a safety rope attached to a log on the ice and dropped through a hole 10 feet in diameter, Swift and Copeland attached a short line to the rope and moved to the vehicle. Pressure then broke the lens in the light they carried, leaving them in darkness. Copeland ascended to the position of the third diver and obtained his light. By the time he and Swift had located the body, Copeland had used up the air in his tank and opened the reserve air valve, which left him air for about a minute. He signaled Swift and started to ascend. Swift became entangled in the short line, and his regulator then developed a malfunction, stopping his air supply. He signaled to Copeland, who had dropped back down the rope to check on Swift. By that time completely out of air, Copeland descended to below Swift, who then lost consciousness. Releasing the light in order to use his knife, Copeland cut the short line and freed Swift. He took hold of Swift but was unable to locate the safety rope. Copeland ascended with Swift to 80 feet beneath the surface, where he was able to see the rope. Tiring rapidly, he grasped it and continued his ascent, occasionally squeezing Swift to drive air out of his lungs and reduce internal pressure. Copeland received some assistance from the third diver, who pushed upward on Swift. After being out of air for approximately 90 seconds, Copeland reached the surface with Swift, followed by the third diver. Others aided them onto the ice. Swift was revived and recovered.
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