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Body of diver who died while inspecting Braintree water tank has been recovered

The body of a diver who was killed while inspecting a water tank in Braintree was recovered early Friday.Barry Chin/Globe staff

The body of a 47-year-old Texas father killed Thursday while inspecting a municipal water tank in Braintree was recovered Friday, after crews worked for hours overnight to pump 1 million gallons of water from the tank.

“It’s a very difficult day,” Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan said Friday afternoon after meeting with the family of David Scott and offering his condolences. “As a community, we’re grieving for what happened, and we have the family in our thoughts.”

Scott reported a problem with his air supply around 10 Thursday morning, sparking an intense rescue effort. He lost communication with a spotter who was standing atop the multistory Lincoln Heights tank, one of five in the town, according to Fire Chief James O’Brien.


The spotter jumped in to help but also became trapped in the dangerously cold water, officials said. Other members of the crew called for assistance, summoning rescuers to brave high winds, and icy conditions atop the tower.

Scott and the spotter were working with another person on the ground, along with a representative from the local Public Works Department, officials said. Scott’s 14-year-old son was also present.

Two firefighters lifted the spotter from the tank, O’Brien said, a job made more difficult by the cold weather, which quickly froze the water overflowing from the tank. The spotter was numb and had “no body strength at all” when he was removed from the water, he said.

Emergency workers could not reach Scott. His body was recovered around 4:30 a.m.

Scott’s family could not be reached for comment Friday. According to his LinkedIn account, he lived in Crowley, Texas, and worked as a sales manager at TK Potable Diving of Texas, the company contracted to inspect the tank. He worked for the Army as an engineer at Fort Campbell in Kentucky from 1989 until 1997.


Scott will be remembered at a candlelight vigil Tuesday in front of the State House.

“The fact that dangerous work has shattered another family, this time so close to the holidays, is just heartbreaking,” said Al Vega, the interim executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health, which is organizing the vigil.

Scott is the fifth worker to drown this year in Massachusetts, including two men killed in a trench flood in Boston in October, the group said.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun an inspection of TK Potable and Pittsburg Tank & Tower, a Kentucky company that contracted out the work.

An OSHA spokesman declined to comment on the inspection, which seeks to uncover any violations of workplace safety standards. TK Potable does not have a history of inspections with OSHA.

Representatives of the company could not be reached for comment. Braintree officials declined to comment on the inspection.

The air temperature was about 25 degrees at the time of the accident, and some people familiar with diving and tank inspections said it is possible for intense cold to freeze air lines, although divers typically carry backup air supplies.

It was not clear if the weather had any impact on the Braintree incident.

Frederick Laskey, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, said most inspections of water tanks are performed in the winter, when water demand is lower. Divers who perform inspections are typically equipped to work in the cold, he said.


John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com.