|A diver swims near the mouth of the cave at Vortex Spring|
in Holmes County, Fla., where Ben McDaniel vanished.
The tale will be featured on the Discovery Channel show
"Disappeared" and in a documentary film "Ben's Vortex."
The 30-year-old vanished in August 2010 after he was last seen underwater cave diving at Vortex Spring in Florida. Expert cave divers spent weeks searching for McDaniel without finding a trace that he died there.
Last month, Larry Higginbotham, 43, of Biloxi, Miss., drowned inside the cave at Vortex. His family said the diver wasn't looking for Ben McDaniel, but cave divers are skeptical.The family steadily increased a reward to $30,000, which incensed the cave diving community because they thought it was recklessly encouraging inexperienced divers to take greater risks to collect the reward.
"He was found near a shovel left near a restriction so small that no one could get through it," said Edd Sorenson, the most experienced cave diver in the area.
Sorenson retrieved Higginbotham's body, pushing and pulling the lifeless man through four narrow restrictions.
"Not only did it (the reward) endanger the lives of divers who would risk going farther than they should, it put all of our lives at risk because we have to go in to recover the bodies," Sorenson said.
Sorenson, along with most cave divers who searched for Ben, are convinced that his body isn't there. That leaves the theories that he committed suicide, that he started another life with an assumed identity or that he was murdered.
|Thirty-year-old Ben McDaniel vanished in August 2010. |
He was last seen underwater cave diving at Vortex Spring, FL.
The parents haven't had one call or tip to a hotline they created. They are realizing that anyone who knows something isn't going to talk. So, they said, it wasn't worth risking the lives of cave divers.
"We didn't want somebody to go in the cave and drown because they were looking for Ben," Shelby McDaniel said Thursday.