Body believed to be missing diver found inside sunken Navy ship

Body believed to be Joseph Dragojevich

KEY LARGO, Fla. - The Monroe County Sheriff's Office found a body believed to be that of a diver who was last seen inside the USS Spiegel Grove wreck, a Navy ship sunk in 2002 as an artificial reef offshore of Key Largo.

Diver found the body believed to be Joseph Dragojevich, 43, of Orlando, about 1:30 p.m. Friday inside the wreck, said Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin.

It may take several hours to bring the body out of the sunken vessel, said Herrin. Once it's recovered, the medical examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Dragojevich, a district chief with the Lake County Emergency Medical Services, was last seen during a dive inside the wreck with James Dorminy, 51, of Kissimmee. The two were on a commercial dive, and they decided to enter the 510-foot-long ship while the others did not.

The men attached a reel line when they entered so that they would be able to find their way out.

Dorminy told deputies that they explored several levels of the ship before beginning their exit. Dorminy said he was in the lead and Dragojevich was reeling in the line behind him.

When Dorminy last saw him, Dragojevich signaled with his dive light that he was all right, Herrin said. But when Dorminy turned back again, Dragojevich was gone and the line was slack and tangled.

Dorminy searched for Dragojevich until he started to run out of air and then surfaced for help, Herrin said.

"We are missing one diver," the captain said in a distress call. "We're standing on the bow as we speak, but we see no bubbles at this time."

The Spiegel Grove sank prematurely off Key Largo in July 2002, leaving the ship's bow sticking out of the water for several weeks.

The Spiegel Grove is the world's largest artificial reef. Six people have died while diving inside the reef since 2002.

"It's always sad," said Raymond Tremblay, a diver. "The Spiegel wreck is so big, so huge, and down below, it is pretty deep and it's dark."

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