UPDATE: Cause of death released for state police diver

By Laura Geller - bio | email

LAKE ANNA, VA (WWBT) – Virginia State Police troopers are in mourning, grieving the loss of one of their own.  We are uncovering more about 41-year old Trooper Mark Barrett, who died after a training dive in Lake Anna.

The medical examiner said Thursday that the cause of death for Barrett was found to be drowning, citing that an underlying heart disease contributed to the death.  It has been termed an accidental death.

Trooper Barrett was returning to the surface of Lake Anna during a routine training exercise when his dive buddy noticed the 41-year old was having difficulty.  He stopped responding.

The buddy helped Barrett to the surface and the team performed CPR as they raced for the shore.  Lake Anna resident Bob Juza watched from his yard.

"There must have been 50 police over there: Louisa sheriffs, Fish and Game Commission," he described.

According to State Police, EMS workers were able to revive Barrett at the Lake Anna Beach Marina, but the former funeral home worker later died at Henrico Doctor's Hospital.

Now investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong.

The dive was standard: 77 feet down, cross a search line and ascend to the surface.  Team supervisor Sgt. Mitchell Smith said Barrett passed a physical earlier in the year and was in great shape as he trained for a marathon.

"I noticed a marked improvement in his physical activity," he said.  "He started seriously considering his diet and his general good health."

When State Police examined the equipment used in the incident, they found nothing wrong.  It is now with an independent lab.

The agency is looking for ways to honor the first diver to have lost his life in the line of duty, since the squad was established back in 1962.

"There was no quit in Mark," said Sgt. Smith.  "If the sun went down, that wasn't a marked sign for us to quit.  We stayed there until the job was done."

Trooper Barrett will be laid to rest on Friday.  There will be a visitation Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Church of the Epiphany at 11000 Smoketree Drive in Chesterfield County.  The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Friday morning, at the same church.

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