August 7, 2011

Divers families notified; detectives release their names

Detectives say the families of two divers found dead today offshore of Plantation Key have been notified and their names can now be released.

The bodies of 43 year old Kevin Moss of Boca Raton, Florida and 53 year old Judy Boone of Wellington, Florida were found this morning, near the location they were last seen, Saturday afternoon. The two were in the Keys with three other friends to celebrate a birthday. Mariann Radwan of Highland Beach, Florida was turning 54 today, and arranged the dive trip with her friends.

They were on board a 25 foot Bayliner called “Bob” captained by Dennis Leith of Tavernier. Leith and Radwan were friends and she’d asked him to take her and her friends out for her birthday. They were on their second dive of the day at Crocker’s Reef, about two miles off the Oceanside of Plantation Key; they started diving in about 30 feet of water, but gradually went deeper until they were diving on a ledge about 60  feet deep. Moss was at about 45 feet of depth when he reportedly ran out of air. At first, according to reports by Sgt. Roy Bogue, Moss was sharing air with Radwan; after she surfaced, Boone stayed in the water with Moss. The two were not seen alive again.

Radwan later told Sgt. Bogue she was having trouble inflating her buoyancy compensator  while she was helping Moss and that Moss had weighted himself down and neither he nor she could figure out how to drop his weights, which were integrated into his other equipment. She said because of these issues, they couldn’t surface and, in fact, were sinking as they struggled with their gear. When Moss saw that her air was almost depleted as well, she said he took her octopus out of his mouth and pushed her away. As she was surfacing, she saw Boone swim up to Moss and begin to try to help him.

Leith was running the boat, and had been following the diver’s bubbles as they moved through the water. After one of the divers surfaced and told him there was a problem, Leith marked their location with his GPS, then went into the water with dive tanks to try to help. When he couldn’t find the divers, he got back into the boat and called for help, just before 4 p.m. Saturday. The U.S. Coast Guard responded and began searching, along with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Sheriff’s Office. The search, which was called off when it got too dark to see, failed to turn up the two missing divers.

At daybreak searchers returned to the GPS coordinates and found the two bodies in the water. Autopsies will be done to determine the cause of their deaths.

The other two friends on board the boat were 55 year old Sherri Makis of Boca Raton, Florida and 52 year old Alan Boyd of Boynton Beach, Florida.

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