Caitlin Row

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June 28, 2012
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Underwater pursuits - learn from a local forensic diving expert

"Many moons ago," Bo Tibbetts was a coffee salesman with a taste for adventure. And, one life-changing decision - he sought out training as a sub-surface recovery diver - reshaped his career, and future.

Tibbetts' new life began when he joined the now defunct Mesa Colorado Dive/Rescue Team 12 years ago. Though he lacked professional training at the time, a fascination with rescue/recovery diving spurred a major career change. He eventually started his own business, Public Safety Dive Supply/Services, which offers opportunities in education, supply sales and most recently manufacturing.

"Onward and upward," 41-year-old Tibbetts' said of his ever-changing profession. "I can't imagine doing anything else."

While there's many components to Public Safety Dive Supply/Services, Tibbett's deep-water recovery training efforts have garnered national attention.

"I work closely with federal, state and our local investigative entities with underwater forensic investigations," he said.

Sub-surface recovery work may include finding weapons or bodies in an underwater crime scene, Tibbetts added.

Six weeks ago, the Grand Junction resident also received a top honor - a public safety dive certification as an instructor trainer.

"I can train instructors now," he said. "There's only a handful of people in the country that can do that."

Though travel is a huge part of Tibbetts' job, he said he'd likely do instructor training locally.

"There's several bodies of water here that can sustain trainings," he said. "We also have high-altitude capabilities."

Tibbetts additionally works as an adjunct professor at Colorado Mesa University. There, he's part of the criminal justice department and the Western Colorado Peace Officers Academy. He teaches three courses, and students learn about drowning investigations and various public safety dive programs.

Colorado Mesa University was the first college in Colorado to offer a Public Safety Diving program for college credit, Tibbetts said. Classes for non-students are offered privately through his business.

Approximately 300 students, from a variety of backgrounds, participate in Public Safety Dive Services trainings with Tibbetts each year.

According to Tibbetts, his career path was directly influenced by a strong desire to help others.

"Recovering the body of a deceased loved one is the best gift you can give a family," he said.

But, the job of a recovery diver doesn't come without lots of risk.

"You work in low visibility and high entanglement," Tibbetts said. "It's dangerous work."

Rescuer safety is a huge component of PSD trainings, he noted: "There's never a time when two dead bodies are better than one."

On top of deep-water trainings, Tibbetts also provides swift-water and surface-ice rescue training.

For more information about Public Safety Dive Supply/Services, visit

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The Post Independent Updated Jun 28, 2012 05:40PM Published Jun 28, 2012 05:09PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.