Florida Keys

He was diving for lobster in the Keys. Then he couldn’t breathe

A Virginia man died diving in the Lower Keys on Friday.
A Virginia man died diving in the Lower Keys on Friday.

A 67-year-old Virginia man died after diving for lobster about five miles off Big Pine Key, Monroe County deputies say.

Frederick Jenkins was diving with a friend at about 11 a.m. Friday in about 15 feet of water using a hookah rig when he became distressed. A third friend was in the boat — a 30-foot-long commercial lobster dive boat from Blue Martini Lobster.

The air lines on the hookah rig became tangled in fishing line and a dead turtle, and Jenkins surfaced saying he had no air, according to a Monroe Sheriff’s Office report released Sunday.

Jenkins straightened out the line and went back under.

Then Jenkins resurfaced, asking the man on the boat, Linwood White, 67, to throw him a life ring. Jenkins reached for it and then disappeared under the water.

The other diver, boat Capt. Lester Pulley, 53, surfaced about 50 feet away. He found Jenkins face down on the sea floor. Pulley dove and brought Jenkins up to the boat’s rear platform. A commercial dive boat stopped and the crew helped get Jenkins into the boat.

Jenkins’ friends performed CPR on him for 30 minutes, according to the incident report. He was later pronounced dead at Fishermen’s Community Hospital.

Police responded to the Old Wooden Bridge that connects No Name Key and Big Pine.

The three men had been diving several times during the week. Jenkins and Pulley were in the water for about 20 minutes Friday when trouble started, police said.

The hookah rig consisted of a compressor, which sits on a floating inner tube, and two 40-foot-long air lines that run off of it, deputies said.