3 divers die exploring Keys wreck

Published March 17, 2007

KEY LARGO - Three divers died Friday off the Florida Keys while attempting to explore the wreck of a U.S. military ship sunk as an artificial reef, authorities said. It was unclear how they died.

Monroe County Sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the men were attempting a penetration dive inside the wreckage, which she described as "relatively dangerous."

Herrin said the group of divers descended near the USS Spiegel Grove on Friday morning.

Shortly after, the captain of the dive boat notified the U.S. Coast Guard that four divers were missing. One of the men surfaced because he started to run out of air, authorities said.

Two divers from another boat helped look for the remaining men. They pulled up one diver, who was taken to a hospital. He was later pronounced dead.

Detectives said the bodies of the other two are still deep within the wreckage of the ship, making a recovery challenging.

The men, friends from New Jersey, were reportedly advanced certified divers. Their names have not been released.

A dive team planned to make another attempt to recover the bodies today.