Sailboat skims over student divers - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Sailboat skims over student divers

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Boaters and marine experts are calling for new awareness after a sailboat skimmed right over divers recently.

Captain Sean Payne of "Deep Obsession", a dive boat with Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures, says dive flags were clearly in sight, but those flags and his loud cries over a PA system didn't stop the boat operator.

During the incident, which was caught on camera, 15 student divers were in the water beneath the Blue Heron Bridge when a sailboat sailed right over their location. "Divers came to the surface to see what the ruckus was about and were swimming for their lives to get away," says Payne.

Gabriella Ferraro with the Florida Wildlife Commission says law enforcement viewed the video, but are not releasing the name of the sailboat operator while they are in the middle of their investigation.

Luckily, the sailboat passed by without harming anyone.

Diving instructor James Weber says the danger and potential for harm came way too close. "They were really lucky they didn't get hit; a propeller and a diver don't mix well together," says Weber.

The FWC says it's too early to say whether charges or citations will be issued. "We don't know where this is going to go. We were not there, but we are certainly making every effort to educate this person. That was reckless endangerment," said Ferraro.

Divers hope every boater gets the safety and awareness message loud and clear. "That video, while it was horrific to see it, ended well. It could have ended a lot differently," says Weber.

FWC says Florida law states boaters must stay within 100 feet of a diving flag in a channel, and 300 feet in open water.

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