NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 16, 2014

Diving victim recalled as veteran, husband, dad

Authorities are still awaiting a finding as to what caused the death of Gregg O’Brien, the 37-year-old Everett resident who died while diving with a group off Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park last Saturday.

But while mourning his loss, family members and friends are also sharing their fond memories and exchanging expressions of support.

Siobhan O’Brien, the victim’s widow, told the Times that her husband had served in the Army, fighting in Afghanistan from 2008 through 2009 as a Humvee driver. In that deployment, he was eventually declared 100 percent disabled after a knee injury.

The couple was ready to celebrate their 10-year anniversary this year and had planned to rent a cabin in Tennessee, where they have stayed before.

“Gregg was an amazing husband, an amazing father,” O’Brien said. The veteran also left behind two daughters, 7-year-old Alanna and 1-year-old Loralei.

O’Brien said her husband loved the outdoors, from skiing, jet skiing and camping with the family to scuba diving. He was involved with many veteran efforts. He was also a full-time nursing student at Bunker Hill Community College and had made the dean’s list last semester.

Gregg O’Brien was recently certified as a scuba diver through an organization called Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS), based in Puerto Rico. That’s where he fell in love with diving, his wife said.

She said it’s important that people realize that he was no inexperienced newcomer to the water.

“He really, really loved scuba diving, and he was trying to get veterans involved,” she said.

O’Brien was pronounced dead at Addison Gilbert Hospital Saturday at 2:20 p.m. after experiencing what authorities have called some type of “medical emergency.” He surfaced once, crying out for help, but he did not come up a second time as diving colleagues rushed toward him.

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