At the edge of a murky retention pond in Palmetto, Capt. Brian Schnering stood swathed head to toe in diving garb as a crowd watched his every move. Without wasting any time, he waded into the mossy waters, sat, put on fins and went to work.
He felt around in the shallows with his hands before donning a mask and submerging into the deep water. He was searching for a child.
The report of a possible drowning proved unfounded and the day's work ended without sorrow.
Throughout his 31 years of diving, first in the Marine Corps and now for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Schnering has jumped into every imaginable body of water and come across all kinds of things. "Cars, toys, you name it. Once we found a school bus," he said.
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Most dive work falls into one of three categories, he said; evidence, Homeland Security or vehicle recovery. "It never seems like the bad guys throw things into beautiful waters or near a beautiful reef," said Schnering with a chuckle.