ISLAMORADA (CBS4) – Just days into lobster season two more divers have died in the pursuit of the tasty crustacean in the Florida Keys, and experts say inexperience is to blame. As good as Florida lobster tastes, experts say it’s not to die for.
“They were not very experienced divers,” Monroe County deputy Nelson Sanchez told CBS4. “One of them had not dived for a couple of years but did get a checkout.”
Sanchez helped recover the bodies of 43-year-old Kevin Moss and his dive partner, Judy Boone, from the waters off Islamorada in the middle Keys. Both divers were down in the Keys from Palm Beach County celebrate a friend’s birthday underwater.
“Apparently one diver had run out of air and he was now buddy breathing with another diver,” Sanchez explained.
A third diver saw Moss borrowing air from a friend as he struggled to get his integrated weight belt off.
Eric Billips, a master dive instructor with Key Dives in Tavernier explained, “The equipment we wear makes us float. So in order to get down to where all the cool stuff is to see we have to put on weight.”
Billips believed it should have been an easy fix to get the weight off.
“You just reach around with one hand and pull out the weight,” he said. “You drop it to the ground and up you float.”
Deputy Sanchez found both divers with “their weight belts on. One had a weight belt and the other had an integrated weight system.” Sanchez says nothing appeared obviously wrong, and believes it might have been just another instance of divers panicking.
“It’s really touches home because you know that it’s something that could have been avoided for very simple things,” Sanchez said.
Rescuers think the lure of the lobster makes divers take unusual chances.
“I guess it’s like Gold fever,” said dive shop owner David Champagne. “They get these lobsters in their head. They have to have these lobsters.”
“It’s very unfortunate. But if you don’t plan for these things you don’t know how to react when they happen.” Champagne said.
In the last couple of weeks three people have died while diving in the Florida Keys. They all died when simple measures, like dropping a weight belt, could have saved their lives. Expert divers say the deaths should serve as a reminder the preparation can save lives, and no lobster is worth taking life-threatening risks.