HEADLEE, Larry A. (1938-1970) [SS#555-50-9941], drowned in a salvage submarine accident on September 21, 1970 off Santa Catalina Island. He was 32 years old. His partner survived the accident.
In the News~
September 22, 1970 [LBI]: “One drowns, one surfaces from 250 feet. Submarine sinks off Avalon. A two-man salvage submarine working off Catalina Island plunged to the ocean floor Monday afternoon when a porthole was knocked out, drowning one occupant. The other man escaped through a hatch and surfaced from a depth of 250 feet in approximately 45 seconds. He was taken to Avalon hospital suffering ruptured eardrums, possible internal injuries, and lacerations. Sheriff's deputies identified the dead man as Larry Headlee, 32, of Mission Viejo. The man who escaped was identified as Richard Slater, 40, of Newport Beach. Headlee and Slater, employed by the General Oceanographic Co. of Newport Beach, manned one of two 12-foot mini-subs working from a Long Beach-based mother ship, the 100-foot Oil City. The salvage operation was being conducted to surface a sunken cabin cruiser a quarter-mile off the east end of Catalina Island. Deputies said the subs — the Nekton Alpha and the Nekton Beta — put mooring lines under the sunken cruiser and brought it to the surface. At that point a mooring line snapped, causing the wrecked cruiser to crash into the Nekton Beta shattering a porthole. The Nekton Beta, flooded through the broken port, went to the bottom at approximately 3 p.m. Slater, who lost consciousness during his ascent some distance from the mother ship, was picked up by a passing ski boat and taken to Avalon. Hospital spokesmen described his condition as fair. Headlee's body was recovered by the two-man crew of the Nekton Alpha, using the sub's salvage claw. The body was taken aboard the Oil City at about 6 p.m.”