Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Diver, 36, Trapped Inside Charter Boat, Dies in Florida Keys

Aimee Rhoads, 36, a tourist diver from Washington state, was pronounced dead after emergency workers performing CPR could not revive her on Sunday (December 18). Rhoads reportedly was trapped inside the cabin of a 25-foot charter boat that quickly sank in choppy seas in the Florida Keys.

Amit Rampurkarl, 27, of New York, also was trapped inside the cabin of the charter boat called "Get Wet," which is owned and operated by Key Largo Scuba Shack. Rampurkarl survived and was taken to Baptist Hospital in Kendall, although he remains in critical condition.

The other six people aboard the boat, including the captain and one crew member, all survived with no major injuries.

COMMENT: The tragedy happened not long after the divers completed their first of two planned dives on Molasses Reef, a popular spot about 30 feet deep and a few miles offshore of Key Largo in the Atlantic Ocean. The boat had just left one mooring spot and was enroute to a second dive location on the large reef when it began taking on water. The boat sank in less than three minutes.

Captain John Nathaniel dove into the cabin and retrieved Rhoads and Rampurkarl, who were unconscious. They were put on a commercial vessel from Pennekamp Park called "Visibility" that had arrived to help, and both were given CPR en route to Key Largo.

Key Largo Scuba Shack, which opened August 2010, has suspended its operations while investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the US Coast Guard determine what happened.

The weather started out fairly calm but the winds picked up and the seas got choppier as the day progressed. The accident happened at about 1515, when winds were at least 15 mph and the seas were 3 to 4 feet.

Updates will be provided on this accident as information becomes available.

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