A man who died Thursday while on an abalone diving trip along Mendocino County's south coast suffered heart failure, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Larry Hashigami, 64, of Sacramento, had been diving for abalone with a friend in a cove near Point Arena when he died.

The friend said they stopped diving and were walking on rocks on their way back to the Arena Cove parking area when he lost sight of his friend.

He found him in the water.

Hashigami is the third person to die while abalone diving on the North Coast this year. The death of one of the others, Yasufimi Hamamoto of Fresno, also is believed to have stemmed from a heart ailment.

At least three of the seven abalone-diving-related deaths last year on the North Coast also are suspected of being heart related.

-- Glenda Anderson