Florida Keys

2 die in snorkeling accidents off the Keys



Two people died in separate snorkeling accidents last week, bringing to eight the number of Keys water-related deaths since early April.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said that on Friday, 59-year-old Texan Donald Tinker was snorkeling with his wife in the Dry Tortugas around 70 miles from Key West. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the wife told investigators that they were snorkeling off a beach, apparently at Fort Jefferson, when she had trouble with her mask so she swam ashore to fix it.

When she went back in the water, she couldn’t find her husband. Two other men did and pulled him from the water and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A rescue helicopter responded and flew him to Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island, where he was declared dead.

On Thursday, Pennsylvanian Lesley Clark, 54, was snorkeling off Marathon with Starfish Snorkeling. They were at Sombrero Light around 2:30 p.m. with other snorkelers when, witnesses told deputies Matt O’Neill and Rosa DiGiovanni, Clark began coughing up blood.

She was pulled aboard the dive vessel, which started for shore and was met by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel whose crew was training in the area. Clark was transferred to the Coast Guard boat and taken to Burdines Waterfront, where they were met by paramedics. She was pronounced dead at Fishermen’s Community Hospital.

Herrin said Clark’s friend told the deputies that Clark was taking “numerous medications” and had a pacemaker. Autopsies will be done on both Clark and Tinker to determine the causes of death.

On May 11, Mark Harllee, 54, of Fort Pierce died while scuba diving off Key Largo. On May 10, William George, 69, of Islamorada was found floating in a canal behind his San Remo Drive home.

Layton resident Dalie Perez, 71, died in a canal May 8 off South Layton Drive in Layton, apparently in an accident. Matthew Prior, 48, of New Hampshire died April 23 during a scuba trip off Duck Key.

A 52-year-old man, apparently homeless and not identified pending notification of next of kin, was found floating April 7 off Rockland Key. Albuquerque, N.M., resident Stephen Benavidez, 55, died April 3 while scuba diving off Islamorada.

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