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New Jersey woman dies while diving with husband in Florida Keys

Patricia Simmons, 66, had previously completed more than 100 dives, deputies say

KEY WEST, Fla. – A New Jersey woman died Thursday while diving with her husband off Key West, authorities said.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the couple was out on a charter with Dive Key West to dive on the wreck of the Cayman Salvager on the Atlantic side.

The boat crew told authorities that Patricia Simmons, 66, got into the water and immediately began to descend.

One of the dive masters aboard the boat chased after her and caught up to her at 60 feet, Herrin said.

Authorities said the dive master brought her back to the surface.

They said Simmons acted as if she were panicking and kept trying to remove her mask.

Once at the surface, Simmons kept trying to spit out her regulator and then became unconscious, Herrin said.

Simmons was pulled onto the boat and the crew began CPR and notified the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard took Simmons to shore, where they were met by Key West Rescue.

Herrin said Simmons was then taken to a hospital, where she died.

Authorities said Simmons was an experienced certified diver, with more than 100 past dives.

The sheriff's office's major crimes unit is investigating her death. 

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.