Search under way for missing diver off Key Biscayne

39-year-old diver missed life line, drifted away from boat with current

Published On: Apr 09 2013 07:09:57 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 08 2013 10:36:14 AM EDT
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MIAMI -

Coast Guard crews are searching for a missing 39-year-old male diver three miles off of Key Biscayne, officials say.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Miami said they received a call at 12:18 p.m. Sunday, reporting that a diver had jumped into the water without his flippers and began drifting away from the dive boat.

Authorities said the diver was on a 27 foot boat to dive with friends. They had planned a 90 foot dive about 3.5 miles off Key Biscayne.

The missing diver got into the water as planned, but when he tried to grab the life line, he missed. The current pushed him away, investigators said.

One of the man's friends jumped in to help but the seas were too rough. The boat's occupants kept an eye on him and circled around, eventually losing sight of the diver on high waves.

About 12:15pm, the boat's captain hit a distress signal. The call went out over marine radio before multiple agencies responded.

A Coast Guard 33-foot rescue boat crew and a rescue helicopter crew were immediately launched to search for the possible missing diver, officials said. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Miami-Dade Marine Patrol, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Air Rescue are also assisted in the search Sunday.

Due to low visibility, local and state law enforcement said they suspended their search late Sunday and would resume at sunrise. The U.S. Coast Guard will utilize their cutter, which is equipped with resources to conduct a night search, to continue the search for the remainder of the night.

The diver was reported to be wearing a full wet suit, which includes a buoyancy control device and air tank that help his survival chances. He was not wearing fins.

Anyone with further information on the missing diver is asked to contact Coast Guard watchstanders at 305-415-6800.