Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Riviera Beach dive boat finds shark-mauled body in overturned vessel

UPDATE: We spoke with captain Mark Rose from the GSE this morning about this entirely sad event. According to him this vessel might have been overturned for at least two days. The Bahamian gov has not released the names of the three deceased-speculating that this group may have been Haitian refugees.

BY ANDY REID Sun-Sentinel

After jumping into the ocean to look for life on an overturned fishing boat, Riviera Beach dive boat captain Jonathan Rose realized the sharks got there first.

Rose and the crew of the Gulfstream Eagle were on a dive trip to the Bahamas with 22 passengers Sunday when the U.S. Coast Guard saw an overturned vessel near Memory Rock, north of West End. The Coast Guard aircraft was on a search for a missing sailboat from Fort Lauderdale when it found the overturned boat. Rose and his 115-foot boat were nearby and he offered his help to Bahamian authorities.

Rose said that when he got into the water, he thought he saw two life jackets tangled in fishing line floating by the boat. As one drifted away, his crew realized they were bodies and that at least one had been attacked by sharks.

"They started yelling for me to get out of the water," Rose, 26, said by satellite phone Monday.

Once Rose was back on board, he and his crew tied the overturned vessel to their own and dropped anchor. They were able to pull only one of the floating bodies from the water and decided to search for any others.

Rose swam beneath the boat and found two more bodies in a forward cabin. He said he pulled them onto his boat as one of his crew mates swam nearby with a spear to ward off two 12-foot tiger sharks swimming around them.

"We knew it had to be done," Rose said. "It's only fair and proper for the families to have closure."

The Freeport News reported Monday that the bodies of two men and one woman were recovered from the 35-foot vessel, thought to have overturned in water 8 to 22 feet deep. The nationalities and identities of the passengers had yet to be released, the paper reported.

A fourth person also was confirmed dead, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson.

Conditions had been rough in recent days, with 20-knot winds and 3- to 5-foot seas, Rose said.

Rose's family has been making trips to the Bahamas for 30 years. His father, Mark Rose, said Jonathan has been diving since he was 3 and that he knows how to protect himself around sharks.

Helping with searches and rescues is part of a life lived on the ocean, according to Mark Rose. He said about four or five times a year they end up hunting for lost boats and even helping stranded refugees.

Sunday was different, according to his son.

"It was a pretty horrible sight," Jonathan Rose said. "It's just not something you can get out of your brain."


Johnny Cake said...

grim that's all I have to say about that.

Anonymous said...

WEll, Jon and Rob, We here in Georgia are proud of you and Glad that ya'll are okay.