A 45-foot commercial dive boat with 23 people aboard capsized Thursday morning as it approached the Hillsboro Inlet after a dive trip. Broward Sheriff’s Office homicide detectives are investigating the incident to determine exactly what circumstances caused the boat to flip, which threw all of the 21 divers and two crew members into the water, and killed one woman.
The captain of the catamaran, which is named Coral Princess, and other witnesses told investigators that a large wave hit the vessel as it approached the rough water of the the inlet.
"There was a rogue wave that hit the back of the boat and capsized the boat, sending everyone into the water," said B.S.O. Spokesperson Dani Moschella.
Several good Samaritans who had been boating nearby jumped into the water to help pull people to safety. Pompano Beach Fire Rescue workers on personal watercraft arrived first and helped with the rescue. Other agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and BSO helped.
"During the rescue it got pretty dicey and scary because we were told there were more people. There may be people missing," Sandra King, Pompano Beach Fire Rescue.
Pompano Beach Fire Rescue transported four people to Broward Health North.
Nina Poppelsdorf, who was visiting South Florida from New Mexico with her nephew, was pronounced dead at the hospital. The Broward County Medical Examiner will determine the cause of her death. The other three were treated and released. Other people on the boat had minor injuries.
The Coral Princess is a Corinthian catamaran owned by South Florida Diving Headquarters in Pompano Beach
The Broward Sheriffs Office is conducting a death investigation, with Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Coast Guard assisting.
"Right now it looks like this is a tragic accident. What started out as a gorgeous day on the water for 23 people ended in tragedy," said Moschella.