Local News

3 divers die in wreck off Key Largo; cause unclear

Posted: 03/17/07 at 10:59 am EDT

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) -- Three divers died Friday off the Florida Keys while attempting to explore a wreck of a U.S. military ship sunk as an artificial reef, authorities said. It was unclear how they died.

Monroe County Sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the men were attempting a penetration dive inside the wreckage, which she described as "relatively dangerous."

"These wrecks can be very confusing inside," Herrin said. "There's a lot of places to go wrong."

Herrin said the group of divers descended near the USS Spiegel Grove on Friday morning, intent on exploring the wreckage.

Shortly after, the captain of the dive boat notified the U.S. Coast Guard that four divers were missing. One of the men surfaced because he started to run out of air, authorities said.

Two divers from another boat helped look for the remaining men. They pulled up one diver, who was unresponsive and was taken to a hospital. He was later pronounced dead.

The two remaining divers never surfaced and Key Largo rescue authorities later found their bodies. But detectives said the bodies are still deep within the wreckage of the ship, making a recovery attempt challenging.

The men, friends from New Jersey, were reportedly advanced certified divers, according to the sheriff's office. Their names have not been released.

A dive team planned to make another attempt to recover the bodies Saturday. Authorities were investigating the incident.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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