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Charter boat sinking causes death in Florida Keys

The sinking of a charter boat in the Florida Keys earlier this month resulted in the drowning death of a 36-year-old female passenger who became trapped in the cabin as the vessel went down. Seven other occupants of the boat survived. The maritime accident is being investigated to see if any negligent or reckless conduct caused the woman's wrongful death.

Emergency workers were called to the scene after the woman's body was recovered from the water. They attempted to perform CPR on her, but were unable to revive her.  

More fortunate was a 27-year-old male passenger. Although he also was trapped in the cabin, he was successfully rescued. He remains in critical condition in a nearby hospital where he was taken by rescue workers. It is unknown why the two were trapped in the cabin.

No other major injuries were reported by the boat's other six occupants, which included the boat's captain and a crew member. Divers on the boat were engaged in a plan to stage two dives into Molasses Reef, which is located a small number of miles away from Key Largo. The site of their planned dives is approximately 30 feet deep, and only the first dive was complete when the boat began to sink. The process was described by witnesses as very rapid, lasting about two minutes.

The reasons for the boat's sinking remain unclear. If it was due to any form of negligence, the company owning or operating the vessel could be held liable. Injuries in offshore boat accidents are governed by different laws than those sustained on land, so those contemplating lawsuits seeking compensation for injury or dealt sustained in an offshore boat accident are advised to retain a lawyer with extensive experience in maritime and admiralty law.

Source: Miami Herald, "One dead, seven saved on sinking charter boat in Upper Keys," Cammy Clark and Sarah Elder, Dec. 19, 2011

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