On August 18, 2010, at around 7:30 PM, Ben McDaniel was seen by two other divers as he descended into the water heading for a popular underground cave.
One of the divers who spotted him was actually an employee from a nearby diving shop who had access to the cave. He followed Ben to the water cave entrance to unlock the gate and let him in.
He turned out to be the last known person to see Ben McDaniel.
This article covers the Ben McDaniel disappearance…
The oldest of three brothers born to Shelby and Patty McDaniel, Ben had not exactly been the luckiest soul in life.
He had a rather miserable failed marriage behind him and his construction company had folded to leave him in complete bankruptcy. A hefty tax debt (est. $50,000) was also hanging over his head.
He decided to return to his parent’s Memphis home in an attempt to cheer himself up and catch up with family members. Whilst there, his parents offered to pay for him to take a break from it all at Santa Rosa Beach, where the family maintained a beach home.
Ben had loved diving as a kid and Santa Rosa Beach gave him the chance to re-discover that passion.
The cave he was diving into on August 18, 2010, was extremely treacherous and the state had debated banning it following 13 deaths attributed to it in the 1990’s.
Local diving institutes in the area decided to lock it up and only really experienced divers were allowed into it.
That day, the divers who spotted Ben knew he was a keen diver so they opted to follow him and pass on the key so he could enter the cave.
Two days after the dive, when McDaniel’s truck was noticed to still be in the parking lot, the Holmes County Sheriff’s Dept. was notified.
When the truck was searched officials found nothing more than Ben’s keys, wallet (containing $700) and cellphone.
A mass of volunteer divers and cadaver dogs turned up to help out and try and locate the stranded Ben inside the cave, but they only found two oxygen tanks at the underwater entrance.
After 36 days of exhaustive search efforts by professional diving teams Ben’s family decided to offer a lucrative reward to anyone who could find out more information on their son.
Not long after this reward was made public, a local diver became trapped inside the cave during his search effort and died. The reward was withdrawn in an attempt at stopping anyone else getting harmed.
Ben McDaniel’s Disappearance
Several theories have been proposed over the ensuing years, including foul play, a staged effort to avoid the impending financial ruin and Ben being trapped or lost inside the cave.
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