KWPD Underwater Search and Recovery Team Saves Man’s Life


While conducting training yesterday, the Key West Police Underwater Search and Recovery Team (USRT) heard a call come over VHF channel 16 advising there was a vessel near Fort Zachary Taylor with a male having a medical emergency. The emergency was described as either a heart attack or seizure. The Coast Guard was receiving limited information as the woman on board did not know how to use a VHF and her cellphone had sporadic service. They were able to ascertain she was somewhere off the coast of Key West as she was describing a tower and radar dome. While enroute they learned the vessel was also taking on water and possibly sinking. They immediately proceeded to the area and were able to locate the vessel in distress. The vessel was adrift and pitching, in 2-4 foot seas in Hawks Channel, approximately 2 miles from shore. Members of the USRT boarded the 41′ vessel.

The officers located the victim in a lower cabin. The victim was not breathing, had no pulse and was showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and hypoxia. The officers immediately moved him to a higher deck and administered fresh oxygen from their O2 cylinder they carry for dive emergencies. The victim immediately began to regain color and a pulse returned as well as a breathing pattern. The officers were able to stabilize the victim and he regained a normal pulse, breathing pattern and partial consciousness.

The Coast Guard later arrived on scene and helped transfer the victim to their boat for transport to the Coast Guard station. The victim was transported to LKMC, and is expected to make a full recovery.

It was determined the boat was in fact sinking from an unknown hole in the engine room. Due to the amount of water already in the vessel and the carbon monoxide danger, it was not safe to asses where the entry point was or attempt to stop the flooding. The vessel sank a short time later.

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2 thoughts on “KWPD Underwater Search and Recovery Team Saves Man’s Life

  1. Well? Where are the coordinates of this great new artificial reef?

    How is it that a professional dive team on the scene was unable to identify the source of a leak bad enough to sink a 41′ boat? Carbon monoxide in a confined space should not be a problem with a mask and scuba equipment (you would not even need the fins), and there is always the possibility of looking at the bottom and stuffing something in the seacock openings or a debris collision hole. These are professional divers, remember. (with coordinates?)

    Once again, we see the importance of familiarizing the crew with safety equipment aboard and the really basic operations. Good thing she was resourceful enough to “wing it.” Nice work, lady- you managed to save your friend/spouse/relative/acquaintance. I would hazard a guess that you will be welcome aboard the new boat.

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