Divers Volunteer to Rescue Stolen Iraq Memorial Statue - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Divers Volunteer to Rescue Stolen Iraq Memorial Statue

TERRACE HEIGHTS, Wash. - A Yakima dive club is now credited with saving the city's Iraq memorial statue.  Police recovered the helmet of that statue Tuesday, and made two arrests.

Yakima Police Captain Jeff Schneider says the suspects told them the rest of the statue was thrown into the Yakima River.  One of the suspects was arrested near the dump site, on Victory Lane in Terrace Heights.

Once divers got into the river, it only took them a couple of minutes to get it out.  Diver Brian McGuire says he was happy to help, because he was frustrated when he found out about the theft .  "Let's just say that if it was the guy that stole it in the river, we wouldn't have volunteered to help." McGuire says.

The divers biggest concern was keeping the statue intact, and not scraping it over the rocks at the river's edge.  The statue is still in good shape, though, the rifle strap and helmet were removed, but will be reattached.

The two suspects, 25 year-old James Hooker and 43 year-old Robert Pearson, are both being charged with theft and malicious mischief.  Schneider says he believes they planned to recycle the statue, using the money they would make to buy drugs.

He says the two may have changed their minds after realizing it was so recognizable that a recycling yard would question them.