KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — An off-duty airman assigned here died while snorkeling at about 9 a.m. Saturday, according to an Air Force news release.

Staff Sgt. Byron Grandy-Richardson, 29, with the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was snorkeling near the Sunabe Seawall, a few miles west of the air base.

The airman started snorkeling with four friends at about 6:45 a.m., according to a spokesman for the Okinawa prefectural police in Okinawa City. About 30 minutes later, two of the five men returned to the shore, while Grandy-Richardson and two other men swam toward a buoy about 330 feet offshore, he said.

Two men then swam back to the shore but Richardson disappeared, the spokesman said.

A diving rescue team from Nirai Fire Station found Richardson at about 9:08 a.m. near the buoy, about 20 feet under the surface, the spokesman said, adding that Richardson was taken by ambulance to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa where he was pronounced dead at 9:35 a.m.

The spokesman said the cause of death was drowning.

The death is under investigation, according to the Air Force release.

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