Florida Keys

Diver panics underwater, then drags partner to the bottom

Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas
Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas AP

A 67-year-old man visiting from Louisiana died over the weekend while diving in the Dry Tortugas, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reported Sunday.

Paul Wimberly was diving Saturday off the vessel Playmate when he apparently panicked underwater, according to his dive partner.

“She said he grabbed her and pulled her to the bottom with him,” said sheriff spokeswoman Becky Herrin.

She shed her dive equipment, rose to the surface and yelled for help. Both were part of the group snorkeling with Sea-Clusive Charters.

A rescue diver brought up Wimberly and a doctor and assistant on board did CPR, but could not revive him, Herrin said.

The Playmate then returned to the Key West Harbor Yacht Club on Saturday night.

Dry Tortugas National Park is about 70 miles from Key West.