FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The two-day lobster mini-season got off to a deadly start in Pompano Beach.
Around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Pompano Beach Fire Rescue received a call about an unconscious diver who was being brought in to the Hillsboro Inlet by boat.
Broward Sheriff’s Office identified the diver as 22-year-old Joseph Grosso.
Grosso, according to BSO, was diving for lobsters on a commercial dive boat with a large group of people off Pompano Beach.
The group had just come back into the boat from a dive when Grosso decided to go back into 40-feet of water alone.
The dive boat staff then realized that Grosso had not resurfaced and began searching for him. He was found, according to police, unresponsive.
Grosso was transferred to a Sea Tow boat and brought in to the Hillsboro Inlet Marina where rescue personnel were waiting.
Pompano Beach Fire Rescue performed CPR and advanced life support procedures and transported Grosso to Broward Health North where he was pronounced dead.
The death, according to BSO, does not appear to be suspicious.
Philip Franchina, Grosso’s stepfather, wants people taking part in lobster mini-season to learn from Grosso’s death.
“He went down for the last dive to get one more lobster and at the end of the day, for a lobster, a life,” said Franchina.
Franchina believes Grosso’s death could have been avoided. During his last dive, Grosso returned to the water alone—and, as coast guard advises, divers should always dive with a partner.
“You can never be careful enough. Unfortunately we felt that it could have been avoided,” said Franchina.
Family and friends were at Grosso’s house in Lighthouse Point hours after his death.
Grosso, known as Joey to his family, was accomplished. He had just graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania where he played football for three years. Grosso, his family said, was going to attend law school at the University of Miami.
“We try to remember him to celebrate his life,” said Franchina, “He lived a great life. He had so much ahead of him.”
Some boaters contend it’s actually safer to search for spiny lobsters at night, when there’s less traffic on the water and the lobsters tend to come out of hiding. They’re easier to find in shallower water when it’s dark.
Many launched their vessels well after sunset Wednesday from Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park Marina.
“It’s not late,” said Captain Gilly Miller. “At night the lobsters come out. They don’t come out in the daytime.”
Some say the later, the better.
“You don’t have the sun beating down on you. And if done right, it’s actually safer,” George Barsimantov said.
Some returned to shore at capacity, while others weren’t as lucky.
Michael Oliva only managed to being back two lobsters.
He said they caught more, but a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission official made them toss them back into the water, citing a violation about where their boat was located.
“We drifted a little, and the man showed up at 90 miles an hour and said that we were fishing in a preserved area and made us throw 20 lobsters in the water after fishing for 7 hours in the sun,” Oliva said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission says it has seen many safety violations during lobster mini season.
“We’ve had a lot of boating safety issues as well,” said Jorge Pino with FWC. “Divers down flag not being displayed properly so there is an array of charges that we’ve been seeing and we’ve been addressing every single one of them.”
The Coast Guard is urging all those participating to indulge carefully as more people could lead to an increase in accidents.
“We can only urge people…don’t risk your life to go out there for a lobster,” said Susan King with Pompano Beach Fire and Rescue.
In addition to grabbing the nets, glove, tickle sticks and whatever else needed to catch the spiny sea critters, the coast guard wants all those participating to practice caution before and after diving with the following tips:
- Check your dive gear before your dive and monitor your air during your dive
- Do not dive outside your physical capabilities
- Plan your dives to be well within safe time and depth limits and stick to the plan
- Dive with a buddy
- File a float plan with a family member or a nearby marina
- Mark the area in which you are diving with a dive flag and a light
- While piloting a boat, stay aware of your surroundings since divers can get separated from their
flags and boats
- Remember, taking all the basic safety precautions will facilitate an increased chance of helping or finding a diver in the event Coast Guard assistance is needed.
Click Here for the complete rules for mini-seaon.