KEY LARGO — Joanne Page, 51 from North Carolina died Thursday after diving at French Reef, about 4 ½ miles off Key Largo in the Atlantic Ocean.
She was pronounced dead on the scene.
She had been diving with her boyfriend, Eugene Jackson, also from North Carolina on the commercial dive boat, Sea Star.
According to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, the couple completed the first of two dives without incident. The problems began when they tried to swim back to the boat against a strong current after they surfaced from their second dive approximately 100 yards from the dive boat.
After battling the current and waves for about 30 minutes, Jackson looked back and saw that his girl friend had fallen behind and her head was underwater.
Crew members aboard the dive boat told investigators they could not see the two divers struggling in the water. In fact, they didn’t even realize that Page and Jackson were missing until all the other divers were safely on board the boat.
The Coast Guard and FWC were called to help search for the missing divers who were eventually found by FWC officers. Jackson was alive but struggling to perform mouth to mouth. Page was taken to shore and pronounced dead.
Commercial dive boats are often loaded with tourists who have little or no experience diving in the open water. Operators of commercial dive boats have a legal duty to use reasonable care to keep their divers safe. This duty can include the responsibility to identify and train novice divers before placing them in the water and to monitor weather conditions, such as strong currents which can make diving hazardous. They should also have an experienced dive master in the water with the other divers to keep an eye on them and to act as a guide.
When reasonable safety measures are not in place on commercial dive boats, divers are placed at increased risk of death or serious injury from accidental drowning .
The Key Largo injury lawyers at our law firm represent the victims of commercial dive boat negligence throughout the state. If you have been injured or someone you know has been injured or killed while diving aboard a commercial charter boat, contact a Miami personal injury lawyer for a free consultation today.