The husband of a woman who died after being caught in a dive-boat’s propellers has brought a legal action for negligence against the charter-boat operator, claiming that a similar incident had occurred the previous day on the vessel’s first outing as a dive-boat.
The fatality was reported on Divernet earlier this year. Florida couple Sean Flynn and Mollie Ghiz-Flynn, 37, had been diving together off the state’s Palm Beach on 29 March and, after waiting to be picked up by the boat, the 15m Southern Comfort, Flynn says they had been waved over by crew.
He claims that the boat had then been put into reverse and sucked them both under its stern, where his wife was struck by the moving propellers and trapped. He and another diver and a crew-member had experienced difficulty in freeing her, and when she was eventually recovered into the boat with severe leg injuries she could not be resuscitated.
The Southern Comfort was owned and captained by Dustin McCabe of Florida Scuba Charters, and seven divers had been on board at the time. With the coronavirus spreading in late March, the trip was said at the time to have been undertaken despite a Palm Beach County ban on diving expeditions and other water-based activities.
Sean Flynn, who was uninjured but described as traumatised by the incident, filed a suit against Florida Scuba Charters in a US District Court on 11 September.
A Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office report had concluded that Ghiz-Flynn died of drowning and “chop wounds” to the legs. Its investigators had reportedly been told that in “rough current” the Southern Comfort had been lifted by a wave that had pushed Ghiz-Flynn beneath it.