Diver loses legs; boater awareness started - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Diver loses legs; boater awareness started

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By Allilson Bybee e-mail

JUPITER, FL (WFLX) - A local diver loses both legs after being run over by a boat in early January. Tuesday night, a call to action. His friends say this didn't have to happen and should not happen again.

They are brightly colored and visible, "This can be seen from a mile away," says the owner of Scuba Works, John Dickinson.

Dickinson says says boaters still somehow miss the warning flags, "Rob did everything correct that day and still he was run over by a boater."

January 9th friends say diver Rob Murphy had his safety sausage up and his boat had its flag. Yet, a boater clipped Rob, destroying his legs. "What happened to Rob was a tragedy. The unfortunate thing is it happens to a lot of folks and there's a lot of near misses," says Dickinson.

That tragedy urged his fellow dive buddies to educate everyone. Divers: have your flags up and pay attention, but boaters need to stay 300 feet away when you see a caution flag. Rob's friend, Barry Blackwell, says, "If you don't know what 300 feet is. I think most Americans know what a football field is and that's what it is."

Blackwell was with Rob the day of the accident. Come this Saturday he'll be out making sure everyone has a bumper sticker informing them of the state law, "If a couple people draw notice from this, then Rob's accident will not have been in vain."

The divers aren't pointing fingers, just spreading a message, "It's our goal to be able to come together on this issue and work towards the same cause," says Dickinson.

As for Rob, he's recovering at Saint Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. He's learning about life without his limbs, but has plans to get back in the water.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is still investigating this incident to figure out exactly what happened. Also, Fox 29 will be talking with Rob Wednesday morning.

As for Diver Awareness Day, it is this Saturday, January 31. If you would like to volunteer just head to any boat ramp in South Florida.

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