Woman dead after dive boat carrying 23 people capsizes off Pompano

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - A woman is dead and one other person has been hospitalized after a commercial dive boat was hit by a massive wave and capsized Thursday afternoon just outside Hillsboro Inlet, officials said.

The Broward Sheriff's Office confirmed the death of the woman about three hours after the incident happened and also clarified earlier reports that up to four people had been taken to Broward Health North. The condition of the second person taken to the hospital wasn't immediately known.

Pompano Beach Fire Rescue was called to the scene shortly before 1 p.m. and arriving crews saw the 45-foot catamaran "in pieces, upside down in the water," said agency spokeswoman Sandra King.

Lifeguards from city's Ocean Rescue division were immediately notified and took to wave runners in order to start rescuing the dive boat passengers.

Skip Morris, 58, of Lighthouse Point watched the incident unfold from his boat at the mouth of the inlet and said he saw passengers "launch" off the boat after it was hit by a huge wave and began to roll.

King said there were a total of 23 people on the boat – 21 divers and 2 crew members – who were heading back to the dock after a day of diving. Everyone has been accounted for, she said.

The dive boat was identified as the Coral Princess, owned by South Florida Diving Headquarters of Pompano Beach. The boat's captain was Dennis Winchester, 23, said Dani Moschella, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Broward Sheriff's Office, Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the large on-water assistance provider Sea Tow Services International also took part in the rescue operation.

"Captain Bob Casey pulled seven people out of the water," said Lisa Morgan, a Sea Tow dispatcher

Though a scenic South Florida day, conditions on the water on Thanksgiving were dicey. Morgan said the seas were running 5 to 7 feet during the day with a brisk wind from the north at 18 to 25 knots.

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