August 7, 2011

Two missing divers found dead offshore of Plantation Key

The bodies of two divers who went missing Saturday offshore of Plantation Key have been located today. The two were part of a dive group on board a 25 foot Bayliner called “Bob”, captained by Dennis Leith of Tavernier.

The five divers were in the Keys together celebrating a birthday. They were on their second dive of the day, about two miles off the Oceanside of Plantation key at Crocker’s Reef ; they reportedly began diving in about 30 feet of water, but went deeper as the dive went on. Leith was in the boat, following the diver’s bubbles when one of them surfaced and told him they’d run into trouble.  One of the divers had reportedly run out of air. Another of the divers   was sharing air with him

Two of the divers climbed on board the boat. Leith recorded the GPS location, then went into the water with a dive tank in an attempt to assist the remaining divers. He was unable to locate any of them so, after searching the area for about 15 minutes, he got back on the boat and called the Coast Guard for assistance, giving them the GPS coordinates of the boat and missing divers.

A short time later, Leith saw a diver surface a distance away and he picked her up; two of the group were still missing, however.  The  Coast Guard arrived and  began searching. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also joined in the search, followed by a Sheriff’s Office marine unit.

The search continued until it began to get dark; in addition, a thunderstorm was moving into the area and conditions were deteriorating so the search was finally called off at about 8:30 p.m.

Searchers gathered again at first light Sunday morning. The bodies of the two missing divers were located at about 9:30 a.m. close to the location where they were originally reported missing.

The names of the deceased divers will be released after their families have been notified of their deaths.

Autopsies will be done to determine the cause of their deaths.

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