The experienced scuba diver had been taking a deep-water class Sunday morning off Seacrest Park in West Seattle.

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An experienced scuba diver in his 20s died while taking a deep-water class Sunday morning off Seacrest Park in West Seattle.

The accident happened about 11 a.m., when an instructor and three other divers were about 100 feet deep, and decided to ascend. One man shot up toward the surface more quickly than the others, who could not find him, said Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.

A rescue and then a recovery effort continued until almost 5 p.m., involving firefighters, police divers and the Coast Guard, without success.

But a few citizen divers donned scuba gear as dusk approached — and police got a 911 call around 6 p.m. that the missing diver was spotted offshore, said police spokesman Mark Jamieson. One of those volunteer divers, a woman in her 50s, had a mask problem and was injured while ascending, firefighters said. She was taken to the hyperbaric chamber at Virginia Mason Medical Center.

Police divers retrieved the body Sunday night 200 yards offshore and 80 feet below the surface. The King County Medical Examiner had not yet disclosed the man’s identity.

The four divers Sunday morning were heading to an area known as the “I-beams,” where steel construction materials sit on the sandy bay floor. They decided to return, before reaching the beams, Moore said.

Visibility underwater was about 25 feet, excellent for Elliott Bay diving, he said.

The site, at a former marina near Salty’s restaurant, is a common area for advanced deep-water training, but often dark with only a few feet of visibility, according to Tony Ercolano, of West Seattle, who says he has dived there many times.

Seacrest as a whole is considered a safe place to learn because the waters are rarely subject to strong currents, and because firefighters and fellow divers respond quickly to mishaps, Ercolano said.

Fatal accidents have occurred in the popular diving area in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and in 2009 a man died of a medical problem.

Material from Seattle Times and West Seattle Blog archives was included in this report. Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or On Twitter @mikelindblom.