What happened: On Jan. 9, a 26-year-old scuba diver from Jupiter, Rob Murphy, was run over by a powerboat offshore from Stuart. Murphy is recovering but both legs were amputated below the knee. Witnesses said a dive flag was properly displayed and inflatable safety tubes were deployed.
Florida divers-down flag law: It requires that any vessel maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from any divers-down flag on waters other than a river, inlet or navigation channel. Divers must stay within 300 feet of the flag. In 2007, a free-diver was killed by a powerboat off Miami, prompting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to use laser radar measuring devices to ticket offenders on a July weekend. In 2007, 11 citations and 31 warnings were issued in Broward Country.
What's being done: A Dive Flag Awareness program is being organized by divers and the FWC. On Jan. 31, volunteers all over Florida will distribute dive flag information at area boat ramps and solicit signatures for the establishment of an annual Dive Flag Awareness Weekend. If you would like to sign the petition online, visit the Dive Flag Awareness page of my Web site.
Chad Carney teaches diving and spearfishing in the Tampa Bay area and can be reached at floridaskindiver.com or (727) 423-7775.