Dispatches from the Grave

For divers recovering what's left of Flight 111, the horror is indescribable

There was no way to prepare for the first dive, no experience to lean on. Rene Poirier said a Hail Mary; that was his preparation. And then Poirier, a 36-year-old master seaman in the Canadian Navy, descended into the wreckage of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia.

His grandfather had been a diver in bridge construction and told stories that hypnotized young Rene. He would have his own story now. Tethered to his 88-ft. boat and wearing 100 lbs. of equipment, he dropped slowly into the grave: 50 ft., 100, 150. At 180 ft., he was on the...

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