CommunityHeroes Among Us


Diving for Hope: Kentucky duo works to help families find closure through water recovery efforts

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Posted at 4:47 PM, Sep 19, 2023

CORBIN, Ky. (LEX 18) — Few know what lies beneath the surface of Kentucky’s lakes and rivers the way Graham Barrineau and Brian Hutton do.

“We’re the only team that does this in the state of Kentucky as far as I know,” says Barrineau.

The duo started the non-profit “Divers For Hope” two years ago.

“I always grew up around water. I was always fascinated with it,” admits Barrineau. “I was always snorkeling with goggles down there looking, I always wanted to see what was at the bottom. Whenever the time came that someone offered certification, I said, ‘Yeah!’”

Hutton remembers how it all came to fruition.

“I was actually watching some other guys from out west do it on YouTube and then (Graham) came to my house and was like, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to do that.’”

Their mission? To help law enforcement — and grieving families — find missing persons underwater.

“We’re not affiliated with any agency. We’re not through the state or anything like that,” Barrineau says. “We’re completely privatized, so if somebody comes up to us and says, ‘hey, my uncle’s missing who was driving this pickup truck and who went from point A to point B and went missing from there,’ we’ll hit every single pond. In my opinion, finding missing people and bringing them home is definitely rewarding and worth every penny.”

While working primarily in the Bluegrass, Barrineau says he has been called to search in Tennessee and even in North Carolina.

Success for these ‘Heroes Among Us’ comes with mixed emotions. Sure, there’s the excitement of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack, but then comes alerting authorities and loved ones.

“Oh it’s overwhelming," Hutton says. “You’re proud of yourself, you’re proud of the people that you work with. You know, it’s like you won the lottery ‘cause it’s not very easy to find what you’re looking for in this case.”

Barrineau acknowledges the aftermath can be difficult. “It’s definitely heartbreaking. Very emotional. Like I said, nobody can ever prepare you for this. You live with it for the rest of your life, you never will forget. You never forget anybody that you find.”

These aquamen support their project by being divers for hire. Searching for lost phones, keys, and even sunglasses for a fee. But their true passion lies in helping those families find what they cannot see.

“Whenever you can bring closure to a family of their missing person that they had no idea that was there or they didn’t know where we was at and you bring closure to them and they’re happy, it definitely warms your heart,” Barrineau says.