Tavernier – A 54 year old man from Massachusetts has died while diving for lobster offshore of the upper Keys.
According to Major Crimes Detective Mark Coleman, Mark Fountain of Montgomery, Massachusetts was an experienced diver who was on a private vessel with his 34 year old son and his son’s girlfriend. They were scuba diving on the Oceanside of Tavernier, at Snapper Ledge when they became separated in the water. The son told officers he got into the boat and then picked up his girlfriend; they spotted the father a distance away, but when they reached his location they realized he was floating on the surface, unresponsive.
They pulled him into the boat and called for help, then headed in to shore. The U.S. Coast Guard met them en route and escorted them in to the Tavernier Creek Marina, where they were met by paramedics; he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the dock at 9:40 a.m. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.
So far, during the first day of the two day sport lobster season, deputies on the water and on land have been busy checking boats, checking coolers at boat ramps and warning people who are in violation of the new county ordinance making it illegal to dive or snorkel within 300 feet of improved residential or commercial shoreline, any manmade or private canal, any private or public marina. This ordinance applies to areas of unincorporated Monroe County, during the period THREE days preceding the two day sport lobster season, both days of the two day season itself, and the first FIVE days of regular season.
According to Sheriff’s Office Caller Aided Dispatch system, there have been 17 Marine Violations of various sorts reported today (as of 11 a.m.), and deputies on the water have made 12 vessel stops. These calls do not include minor contacts made by deputies in which no CAD call is assigned.