Mike Reed - A Tribute

Mike Reed – A Tribute

Our community lost someone yesterday.  One of the few guys I both liked and respected:  Mike Reed.  If you didn’t know him, you should have.  I’m not writing this to mourn his death, I think that would be a disservice.  I just want to share a bit about his life.  I felt lucky to have known him.

The first time I met Mike it was pretty typical of Mike:  he was helping us.  It was after midnight, and he was helping a couple of Texas guys get some missing pieces of gear together.  I remember being pleasantly surprised – here’s a guy who knew his way around a boat and was willing to help us out, even though it was late and he wasn’t going to be diving with us.

We dove together a few times over the next couple of years.  It got to the point that when I heard Mike was going to be on the trip, I felt better about the trip.  He was a handy guy to have onboard, a diver who would actually look out for you, and always willing to chip in to get things underway.  Believe me, those are rare qualities.

I know, personally, of multiple people whom he let “borrow” his boat.  No questions asked, nothing expected in return.  Just handed over his boat to someone else and said, “Have fun!”  He was a generous guy, another rare quality.  I know of very few people that would hand over something so personal (and damned expensive) to someone else without strings.  But that was Mike Reed.

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Mike Reed

I took the jump into traveling and spearfishing before he did, but he took the jump into underwater photography before I did.  So we spent time bouncing ideas off each other.  If you were a friend of his on Facebook, you got to see his progression from complete beginner to talented photog.  In fact, every picture in this post is one from Mike Reed.

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Mike Reed


I know most people want to know what happened.  But it won’t change anything.  Mike is still gone, and we’re still here.  The world keeps turning, but we all have a Mike-sized hole in our lives.

Nobody knows how we’re supposed to process the death of a good, young guy.  When I got the text, it was a huge sinking feeling.  Then shock.  Then anger.  And finally, just sadness. Real sadness. The kind that you know won’t go away anytime soon.

But every one of us that dives, knows that we take risks. Sometimes big risks.  And that’s one thing that I liked about Mike.  It’s a special kind of guy that can take risks like this;  it wasn’t for money and it wasn’t for fame.

People called him crazy, but I just saw a guy living better than anybody else.   It helps to remember that we all die, and that a year’s worth of good living is more than most people ever get.  Mike got more than a year of good living, much more.

It’s those times when you put it all on the line when you are really living, Mike got that.

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Mike, living

Like everyone who knew Mike, yesterday was a rough day.  It was tough, and not any easier last night.  I’m sure you all went through all of your pictures, texts and remembered all of your phone calls.  I did.

Mike Reed

Big Plans…

Forever.  55.  That seems really far away now.  It didn’t just a couple of days ago.  That’s a harsh reminder of how short life is, and how important it is to live every day like it’s your last.  Because it really could be.  My most sincere condolences to his family and friends.  I can’t imagine the pain you’re all in.  I’m so sorry.

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Goodbye, Mike

What I really want to say, though, is thanks.  So, Mike, thanks.  Thanks for reminding us that there are good, generous people in the world.  Thanks for reminding us that what it means to live your life.  Most importantly, thanks for sharing some of your time with us – it wasn’t enough, but we’re glad we got it.

We’re really going to miss you Mike.


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14 replies
  1. Jacey Fuselier
    Jacey Fuselier says:

    The last picture of him on the beach, we were in Costa Rica…I remember how he kept going around asking locals about the spear fishing community and finally found a guy who was into it, Mike was so stoked about his stories he gave the guy his email and wanted to keep in touch for future trips. He was so passionate and genuine when it came to the things he loved. Mike sized hole, no doubt about that.

  2. Nate
    Nate says:

    Here’s the story, via Louis.

    This is the story that no one ever wants to tell. I can’t tell you how tramatic of an event this has been for me.
    I wrote this for Mike’s family, and it is only with their permission that I am able to send this to all of you.

    I am not loooking for anything other than prevention, that this possibly can stop this shit from happening to anyone of y’all. Please head this as a warning sign. Make it your gospel. Spearfishing is an extreme sport, spearfishing the oil rigs is even worse, it’s dangerous, divers don’t usually get hurt, the end result is usually death.

    I beg you please, preach saftey to all divers, no matter how confident they are.


    p.s. Mike, I only met you 8 months ago, and we have lived many lifetimes on the several dive trips we made together. We had many plans to explore many more adventures. but our time together was cut way too short. Just think of the stuff we could have killed if we had only 8 years. I loved you from the very first day we met. We had the same mindset even though you were 20 years younger than me. I will see you again some day my friend, just not today.

    RIP my brother!

    Mikes Last Dive 3/1/2014

    To the Reed Family.

    I can’t tell you how sorry I am for your loss, and I can’t even imagine how you guys feel. I had loved Mike from the first time I met him. Mike came into my life as a package, it was always Mike and Blade from the first day he showed up at my house. And even though I’ve only know him for a short while we became very quickly, very close friends.

    The trip,

    Mike texted me earlier in the week, that he wanted him and I to go diving Saturday, March 1st. I told him I’d already be down in Venice fishing and that we could make that happen. Through the course of the week, he got David Hood, another one of my closest personal friends to join us.

    It was going to be great because David, knows my boat in and out. This was also Mike’s first time on my boat. I told David, that him and Mike were to get my boat from my house in Kenner, and bring it on down to Venice, 2 hours away.

    February, 28th, that evening, David called me and told me they were having problems, the front disc brake on David’s truck locked up, so the next plan was to use Mike’s truck, but when Mike got to Metairie, his alternator went out. They were both at Wil Demuth’s house to pick up tanks, so with both trucks broke down at Wil’s, Wil offered them his truck. I knew they weren’t going to get down to Venice until very late so I went to bed. I woke up to them at around midnight.

    The next day, I got up at around 7am and David woke up with me, I had to go into Mike’s room twice to get him up, I told him no hurry but he needs to start stretching or something. I’d say we left the dock around 8:30am. Mike had brought a friend, Justin to come along as a fisherman.

    We headed down river, and out of this little pass called Southeast pass, entering the gulf about 35mi. away from the marina. And we were going to head east for about 20 mi. once in the Gulf, then dive our way to the north in order to keep the waves at our stern and come back into land thru a tiny pass called Octave pass, some 20mi. north of Southeast pass. We were going to make sort of a loop and dive a few select rigs in this loop.

    The entire way down the river and out into the Gulf, Mike was an absolute chatterbox. I mean he didn’t stop, and David was on the other side of me, so I was being bombarded. The whole time I’m trying to concentrate on driving, he’s asking me questions about this and that. We were making plans to go bluewater fishing the next day, we were planning to go to Toledo Bend to shoot catfish, we were making plans! I could tell he was so excited and so happy and I was only thinking about how much fun we were going to have, and how much fun we were going to have with all the bullshitting and laughing we were going to do on the ride home.

    We pulled up to the first rig and David grabs the rope, and Mike tells Justin, watch how these boys throw the rope, to catch the rig. He told Justin, “these boys know what they are doing.”

    We had to tie up twice, because the current was going the opposite way of the waves, but we hung off the South side of the rig just fine. There was very little current and very little murk on the surface. The rig sits in 240’ of water.

    Mike had asked me how deep it was and when I told him 240’ he said that’s perfect. I told him this rig had a bunch of scamp groupers on it, and that we shouldn’t have a problem shooting one and coming up. Mike said he wanted to go down and start stringing scamps up and shoot a whole bunch of them. I told him, NO YOU DON’T. I specifically told him this is a one shot game, you go down, shoot and come straight back up. He sort of argued with me, and then he reassured me that he would go down, shoot one time and come back up. We suited up, David on the bow, and Mike in the back next to me. I had told him that last week, I’d seen about a 70lb. cubera on this rig. BTW, cuberas always hang in the shallower column of the water level. So I hadn’t planned on even diving deep.

    Mike had attempted to put his GoPro camera on his head but somehow after charging it all night it wouldn’t come on.

    Before we entered the water, Mike said something to me about, “y’all just go ahead, I take a little extra time to get ready”, I told Mike, “no way”, I told him, “we all go down together, we all come up together.” I told Mike and David, the best way to get that cubera, was for all 3 of us to swim to the second pipe on the rig, and all of us stay behind that pipe, and descend, staying hidden behind that pipe.

    The Dive;

    On the way down, I saw David out of the corner of my eye, but I never really saw Mike other than one glimpse of him over to the side, he was not on the second pipe with me and David. The reason I could barely see David also was because I was swimming in front of David, but I knew he was close. At 110’ there was a deck, and I just peeked my head around that pipe to see if the cubera was on top of that deck, I didn’t see him so then I dropped a little more and looked underneath that deck, nothing. I now left the 2nd pipe, and started swimming into the conductor pipes in the center of the rig, and now I could see David very well on the side of me as we circled the conductors. We dropped to 150’ and there was fish ever where. All of this time I’m trying to find Mike but I can’t locate him. I shot a small scamp at around 150-155’ and threw the shaft back into my gun, looked at David who was right next to me and started looking for Mike. That is when I noticed a stream of bubbles coming from below all the way to the outside of the rig. I went over to those bubbles, trying to look down, but after 155’ the water started getting dark and murky. It also appeared as if the bubbles were getting stronger meaning the diver was ascending. I stayed at this depth for a minute waiting to even see if this was Mike, and then I made the decision to drop down to see what was going on. I was dropping really fast trying to get to the source of the bubbles. I had checked my gauges before I dropped and know I only had about ½ of a tank of air, and I checked my gauges at max depth, 235’. I was only 5’ off the bottom and could see the bubbles but could not see Mike, I was screaming and yelling to the top of my lungs but I could not go any deeper as now I only had 500psi. left in my tank. I started to think that the rig was leaking bubbles because the source of the bubbles was coming from the bottom of the Gulf and I didn’t want to die to find a leaky pipe.

    I blew up my BC and hauled ass for the surface, at 200’ I passed David, who saw what was going on and tried to keep an eye on me. When I got to 30-20’ I had barely anything left in my tank, me and David stayed on the corner leg of the rig, motioning hand signals, about Mike. Before I could completely finish my decompression, I was out of air, but my meter was in good shape as this was only the first dive of the day.

    Back at the Boat;

    When we hit the surface, we started asking Justin if Mike was already on the boat, and he told us “no.” I told David, if that was Mike’s bubbles, he’s dead. We both got on the boat, and after about 2 minutes, Mike popped up slumped over. Both me and David jumped in the water and half way to Mike I thought it would be better for me to get back on the boat and bring the boat to them. Not to mention, I’d have to set up an oxygen bottle. I frantically pulled at first aid gear, and David and Justin had Mike at the ladder, we couldn’t get him in the boat because he was so heavy. In the process, his BC and tank got unbuckled and dropped back into the water. We finally got him in the boat, and I started yelling MAYDAY on channel 16, diver in distress.

    I then started yelling at the rig, for them to lower the personnel carrier, but nobody was looking over the side, so I had planned to jump on the rig, but the current going the opposite way of the waves was making that impossible, at this point I had Justin driving the boat, and he couldn’t handle getting the boat into position. I then had to take over the helm and I nosed the boat to the rig and got Justin to jump off the bow, and up the ladder to get help.

    I know David was working on Mike, but I could barely stand to look to the back of the boat where they both were. Finally, the rig workers lowered the personnel basket and David and I wrestled Mike into the basket and David took the ride up and onto the rig, but Mike was already gone, and we’re not really sure if he ever was there after surfacing several minutes earlier.

    These are the details to the best of recollection, it just so happened that I had this data logger on me. Dr. Stein had wanted me to take it down, for a fish study to determine water depth and temperatures at that depth. This was my first dive ever with the data logger. Some of the depth numbers in these details may be off but the data logger will give the exact depths, once I get that information I will forward it to you.

    If there was only one thing that could’ve been changed. On the way back, I was towing the boat, and the bearing burned up, my boat is sitting on the side of the road at Delta Outboards down in Empire, I couldn’t make it back home with my boat, I wish the damn thing would’ve burned up on them the night before and the boat wouldn’t have made it down there, but no doubt, we would have been persistent enough to fix it, and still go diving.

    I’m so sorry for your loss,

    Louis Rossignol

    • Rene Storm
      Rene Storm says:

      Louis…Thank you so very much for the details. When a loved one is lost, there is a natural inclination to want to know the whole truth about the “how” of it all. Having a first hand account of the event is so much more reliable than the myriad of stories that will surely follow in the days and weeks to come. It was no doubt a painful experience for you to relive…but Mike’s family and friends needed this for grieving and healing to progress. God bless you for your generosity.
      Rene Storm

  3. Jerry barnhill
    Jerry barnhill says:

    I worked with mike, I was a day worker and mike a shift worker, we both had a passion his deep under the water, mine hundreds of feet in the air!! It hit me hard when I heard this, other than being older we were a lot alike!! I’ll miss him!!!!!!

  4. Heather
    Heather says:

    This was so beautifully 100% on the money. Michael and I have been the best of friends for 13 wonderful years. He’s like my brother and a son to my parents. This is just so hard to process but he died doing what he truly loved. I would always fuss at him when he would excitedly tell me ” I free dove so and so feet today” “BE CAREFUL I scolded! But he reassured me if he was going to die, this would be the reason why. I love and miss you SOOOO much Michael James. I know you’re at peace bubba.

  5. Kara Marie
    Kara Marie says:

    HI NATE I DO NOT KNOW HOW BUT I STUMBLED BACK UPON THIS AGAIN AND WANTED TO SAY WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTION AND DEPICTION OF A GUY I FIBD MYSELF MISSING STILL! I myself only knew him because he and my youngest sister Jacey went out a while…Jacey never liked anyone (dating worthy i mean) so one day im on pc and get a request from this hot young stud who is asking me to go for dinner and wine!!?? I laughed to my husband and said someones playing a joke on me so i am playing along when he says oh and by the way can you bring you sister Jacey with us when you come?? She wont talk to me and i just well i hoped you could put in A FEW GOOD WORDS FOR ME! Of course she fell for him..I absolutely adored him and so did my family…Jacey only had one semi serious bf before him in highschool and he too passed away…Although Mike and her were not “technically” on at the time of the accident they were starting back up on the phone…Mike was a bit older and Jacey was right out of highschool and he wanted her to be with him and sh did the typical teenage stuff instead went to bars with her gfs…) I know now she would give anything to be with him every second …His family and a few friends were ugly to her at and around the time of the funeral which i find to be imature and cruel bc if they were in Mikes life they knew how much he cared for her and she him…Some people even now say that he barely knew her so i want to set them right because yesterday i found a box of letters from him to her in the kitchen cabinets in her old house my husband and i moved into….I sat there on the kitchen floor balling my eyes out for her and how bad the pain must be for losing such a perfect good hearted man and not being able to talk to his friends and family to greive must hurt so badly….MY heart just aches for her Who has nrecently started a relationship with a guy whom Mike probably would call a douche but he seems okay as long as he knows shes is a beautiful girl whom has lost two loves her only two…therefore she loves like tomorrow will never come and to anyman she shows an interest should feel very special bc she is picky and Mike Reed was a hell of a guy to live up to….I would love to take them for dinner and wine one more time!!! This is just a big ssiter with a big heart rant because twice now in two days i have come accross Mike Reed first through the sweet letters i found and today i found your blog on totally unrelated search and thought i would say hello Nate and let you know what a wonderful talent you have in writing…Every time i read it i break out crying in but Mike was also lucky to have made a friend who wrote him so so perfectly…..And for anyone who has anything to say regarding my little sissy please do not she too lost the most awesome man she will ever Know!!!! AND LADIES trust me you must have no clue how much he loved her ( i have a box of letters that say so) she loves him and not one day goes by that she doesn’t think about him there will always be a hole in her hurt…..She loved you Mike and trust me you had her and always will…. and if your listening up there please keep my sister safe and smart!!!….LOve you lil brother we will take that boat ride one day on the clouds!! #*M.R.♥you are 4 ever in our hearts!!!


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