May 10, 2012

Tennessee man dies while diving

Key West – A Tennessee man died while diving offshore of Key West today.

39 year old Ollie Macon Smithwick, from Cookville, Tennessee was on vacation with his wife, 10 month old baby and two friends. The three men intended to dive the Vandenburg, and to spearfish on the wreck.

They arrived at the wreck this morning and Smithwick went into the water in advance of his two friends. The other two divers entered the water about ten to fifteen minutes later. One headed toward the bow of the boat and the other toward the stern. The friend that headed to the stern was startled when he spotted a large fish thrashing around near the side of the vessel.

He swam back toward the bow and told the other diver; they then headed back toward the stern where they found what they think was a large Amberjack speared, thrashing around.

They traced the line from the fish back to the spear gun and found Smithwick who did not appear to be responsive. They tried to inflate his buoyancy compensator to get him to the surface, but were unable to. They returned to the boat and called 911.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded, along with a dive boat which was nearby. They were able to pull Smithwick on board a Coast Guard vessel. CPR was performed en route to shore, where they were met by paramedics, He was transported to Lower Keys Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo is assigned to investigate.

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