MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Two major incidents were reported on the first day of lobster mini season in Monroe County as one man died after losing consciousness at Sawyer Key and another man was airlifted to a hospital after being struck by a boat propeller off the Lower Keys. A man also drowned off the coast of Pompano Beach, according to officials.
According to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Adam Linhardt, someone called 911 around 7:10 a.m. Wednesday to report that a man was preparing to dive for lobsters when he began to struggle in the water.
Linhardt said a good Samaritan performed CPR on the victim, later identified as Emilio Gonzalo Perez, 35, of Sewall’s Point, and he was taken to Sugarloaf Key before being transported to a hospital, where he died.
Autopsy results are pending.
According to Linhardt, the incident involving the man who was struck by a boat propeller occurred around 8:25 a.m.
He said the victim, identified as Ricardo Maikel Rodriguez Leyva, 41, of Naples, was struck in the leg by the propeller.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boats must maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from a displayed dive flag.
Linhardt said the diver was first taken to Cudjoe Key and then to Sugarloaf Key where Trauma Star airlifted him to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition Thursday.
The City of Pompano Beach also confirmed that a diver drowned off North Ocean Boulevard shortly after 9:30 a.m.
According to a news release, Pompano Beach Fire-Rescue units responded to the scene and were told that the man was diving for lobster when he surfaced in distress.
The diver was taken to the Hillsboro Inlet on a boat and CPR was performed on him until the group was met by first responders.
Officials said the victim went into cardiac arrest and was transported to Broward Health North, where he died.
“According to the others on the boat, the 39-year-old Pompano Beach resident was diving for lobster with another man and a female on a private 30-foot boat in approximately 25 feet of water off the Pompano Beach coast when the incident occurred,” the news release stated.
Officials said the second man also became distressed while tending to the victim and was also taken to Broward Health North to be evaluated.
Authorities in Monroe County said most people were in compliance Wednesday with rules regarding lobster harvesting, however below is a list of stops/citations issued on the first day of lobster mini season:
• 192 vessel stops/resource/safety inspections
• 2 arrests, both for lobster violations
• 10 mandatory Notice to Appear in Court Citations.