3 die while diving for lobster

Published July 27, 2006

Three people died in unrelated incidents Wednesday while diving off the Florida coast during the first day of the two-day lobster miniseason.

Dwight Blackwelder, 58, of Fort Pierce died while diving in about 55 feet of water for spiny lobster about 5 miles off the Fort Pierce Inlet, the Coast Guard said.

Todd Hilkert, 36, of Palm Harbour, died when he failed to surface while diving with a friend on a reef off Plantation Key, said Becky Herrin, a spokeswoman for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Hilkert was not a certified diver.

Joan Radford, 66, of Coconut Grove was about to dive off Big Pine Key when her niece dove in the water to retrieve a piece of equipment that had fallen. When the niece surfaced, Radford was missing. The woman was found on the bottom of the ocean, Herrin said.