Diver dies as son ascends fast to get help

Son tried to get help for father: Juno Beach in Florida (FFWCC)
Juno Beach in Florida (FFWCC)

A scuba diver has died off Florida's east coast while reef-diving from a boat with his 14-year-old son.

Finding himself in difficulties on the seabed shortly after descending, Kenneth Lowery had, according to a family member, pushed his son Xander, who had been trying to help him, to ascend alone.

The teenager had gone up dangerously fast in his anxiety to raise the alarm, but was later said to have recovered after being treated for decompression illness. Only three weeks earlier he had lost his mother – Lowery’s ex-wife – when she had died of cancer.

According to relatives it had become an annual tradition over the past six years for Kenneth Lowery, who had been training to become a diving instructor, to visit Florida from Texas with his son so that they could dive together.

They had been on the charter-boat Republic IV with Jupiter Dive Centre on 13 March, leaving Jupiter at 9am and heading for a popular dive-site called Captain Mike’s.

Lying about 10km off Juno Beach, the site is described by the centre as one of the most spectacular local reefs, ranging in depth from around 20 to 30m.

The divers had entered the water at 9.50am, with Xander Lowery resurfacing minutes later and calling for help. He told crew that he had last seen his father lying on the seabed with his regulator out. 

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officers had responded rapidly to the subsequent missing diver call, and Lowery’s body was found after what was described as an extensive search at about 11.30am. The police are investigating the cause of death.

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