Going under: Spend a day with HPD's dive team

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These underwater rescuers deserve a Foti's High Five!

On the banks of Braes Bayou, an elite group of Houston police officers leave behind their guns for a rubber suit, mask and more than 100 pounds of equipment.

"There is only 16 of us," HPD dive team member Sgt. Edward Godwin says.

Their training mission today: Recover a submerged vehicle.

VIDEO: Body found in vehicle pulled from Buffalo Bayou
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Divers pulled the body of a young man from a car that veered into Buffalo Bayou on Friday evening.

"There's a lot of entrapments underground, in the water," Godwin says. "Rebar, concrete, trees floating."

It's a dangerous dive, and to make things even more difficult, there is zero visibility. The diver shows us just how blinding the bayou water is on their missions.

"A lot of times you literally just run into vans, vehicles," Godwin says. "Like we saw today headfirst. You don't even know it's there."

VIDEO: Flood-related deaths reported around Houston
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Woman believed dead inside car after driving around official barricade on Westpark at Post Oak.

In the water, it's all about touch and communication back on shore.

The stakes and the pressure are even higher when the dive team is called out to recover a drowning victim.

"We feel that pressure too, and the families here and we're looking and searching and you can't find it right away, because we can't see," Godwin says.

Related: HPD dive team searching for man who drove van into South Houston bayou

Authorities are trying to pull a van that drove into a south Houston bayou out of the water.

Recoveries take hours. The team uses sonar equipment to see below the water's surface, and when they finally find the victim, closure.

"I'm sure it means the world to them," training coordinator Eric Therkildsen says. "I could not even imagine being in that situation."

The team has recovered hundreds of victims since it was formed.

VIDEO: Body found in Brays Bayou in SE Houston
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For a third time in a week a body has been found in a Houston bayou

Sgt. Godwin remembers his most difficult recovery last year.

"I had to dive for a child," Godwin says. "Those are probably the worst."

Another tough one came during the tax day floods, when a woman who drove her SUV into high water at the Westpark Tollway drowned.

VIDEO: Recovery effort underway after driver veers into Buffalo Bayou
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Search for driver after car goes into Buffalo Bayou, Tracy Clemons reports.

"We made the call that we were not going to go recover her because that water was intercede and there was a big suction at the bottom, and we were not gonna put our divers into danger," Godwin says.

It was a tough call. The team kept busy with dozens of other water rescues, going where no other officers do and bringing home those who never made it back.

And for that, a well-deserved Foti High Five.

Do you know someone who's doing good works and deserves to be recognized on abc13 with a Foti High Five? Let us know!

Related Topics:
societyFoti High Fivewater rescuehouston police departmentHouston
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