richard bryan hadley march 8, 1958 - sept. 28 2013
this account of my brother's last freedive was written by his closest friend:
We left for a hopeful and exciting weekend of yellowtail and lobster as we have done many, many time over the years. I have known Rick since elementary schools and was fortunate enough to get him back into my life 12 years ago with diving as our common interest. We immediately became dive partners and friends that could share anything. we would go through a lot together just trying to live life and using the one sanctity we always had to escape was the ocean. Catalina was blue and 80 viz. I shot the first fish and Jeff .B shot the next. Nothing but smiles on board the Half Dozen. I decided to get under way to SBI so we headed out. Dove the 9 Fathom spot, too dirty, dove the wash rock better but no fish, then dove the other side of that point and whalla Steve P. shoots a nice yellow and sees some bruisers. Rick sees one but no shot just out of range. Excitement is back in the air. After a hour we decide to get setup for the lobster smack down about ready to take place. We anchor south of Sutil just next to the sister rocks. Rick is so fired up he is the first one dressed and in the water. The viz. inside was 5-10 due to a surge that at times was ferocious. Deeper water 20-30 We all get some bugs but its not wide open like we had hoped for. We all get back on the boat around 9 and decide to give it one more try before we take off for calmer waters. Again, Rick is in the water first followed by me in hot pursuit. You see their is always a friendly competition of finding the biggest fish, bug whatever but in the same spirit we truly wanted the other guys to do well. Rick and I found ourselves against this cliff with the surge raging into it at that point I decided to head into deeper water primarily to get better viz. That was the last time I saw Rick alive. We all came back to the boat around and wondered where Rick was. Since I can remember being taught by the legends of our sport Harry Ingram, Wes Morrissey we always attach a chem light to our snorkels using electrical tape. This way you can spot your fellow divers easily from the surface. We could not spot Rick's light. We scanned the coast with flood light and no sightings. It is now and we are all very, very concerned. I gathered the guys to work a grid of divers and work our way through the kelp where I had last seen him. By I called in the Missing Diver report to the Coast Guard. Many of you heard the PanPan calls throughout the night for a missing diver, 54 year old man where brown bottoms and a green top in the vicinity of SBI. The first helicopter showed up at and started running grid patterns up and down the coast. This went on throughout the night with three helicopters back to back. We manned the radio all night and waited for morning to come. Early morning we were back in the water looking for Rick. We had the Coast Cutter Narwol on site as well as the LA search and rescue boat and eventually the US Park Rangers bringing the LA Sheriff on board. We saw Donny H, Scott D. And Lou on the Sea Bastard and special thanks to them for helping out and doing a great job. We created a grid with all of us so the county divers on tanks could work the parameter of the kelp and we could work the bed. At Rick's body was found in 20 ft. Of water laying face up with his dive light still on. When I saw him I felt like he could swim at any minute. He looked beautiful and peaceful with everything in tact. We believe he got into the cave somehow became disoriented and drowned. Because of his incredible breath hold I am sure he made one hell of an attempt to get out of there. His body was found outside the cave where we had covered many times throughout the night so we are confident he was in the cave all night. It was far too treacherous for any of us to even think he would be in there as well as any of us entering to find out. I always felt in my heart Rick would be the one pulling me up from 80 feet saving my life. He was an excellent diver with lung capacity second to none. I wanted to thank all the emergency personnel that helped with the recovery and especially my incredible crew, Robert S., Jeff B., Steve P. who showed amazing courage, poise and professionalism in dealing with this tragedy. This is the sport we love and I know Rick will be diving with me for the rest of my life. Encouraging me, smiling at me and laughing. God Bless.
Guys - Everyone who knew Rick had the same story - class act, awesome diver, generous and thoughtful. The moment we four, Lyle, Jeff, Robert and I decided he wasn't coming back and we had to weight up, masks on and begin a recovery process was a fucking moment --- two minutes before we had lights on the shore, yelling his name and scouring for that tell-tell sign of his chem-light but to no avail --- then there was a moment when we all realized he's gone. Lyle, Jeff, Robert and I took to the task with a deliberate level-headed "keep it together" attitude -but in the water, I cried. Breath holding I cried. Not wanting to find him, but wanting to find him. Looking back to the boat and seeing things, seeing him on board??? No, just a shadow. Then back at it. "Where are you Rick?, where the **** are you?" For hours we took Lyle's every command as our lead until it was clea rwe needed to "call it in." Thanks to Robert for helping feed copy, words to Lyle as he radio'd Coast Guard. Thanks to Jeff for being so fucking solid. Thanks to Lyle for believing to the very last minute Rick was there -- whistling, yelling out with torch in hand --- And thanks to the LA County divers who found him.
Rick was known for his "dolphin kick" when doing his dives. Here you see it a bit.
I applaude my brother for studying one of the oceans best swimmers to emulate.
I think he would have enjoyed talking fin design with George Greenough.