JUPITER, Fla. - South Florida's lobster 'mini-season' is often married with injuries and even death as so many divers are in the water off the coast. A diver from Hobe sound has a story of survival after he was lost for hours fighting to stay afloat and stay alive.
Larry Lumb could see and hear the Coast Guard helicopters. The rescue boats seemed to be so close; but no one could find him. "I came out of the water and that's when I knew I was in trouble," said Lumb, 46. "The boat wasn't there."
Lumb had surfaced about two miles east of the Jupiter Inlet. The boat that his brother, Bill, was operating was no where to be seen.Lumb had been about eighty feet down, lobster diving. He did not realize it then, but he had pulled his dive flag beneath the surface, making it impossible to track his whereabouts.
"My mind really started to run wild and the percentages of me making it to the beach aren't a hundred percent," said Lumb, describing the moments when he believes his brother was calling for help.
Lumb says he got into the water at about 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday. The minutes and the hours were quickly ticking by. The sun was going down and there was a whole new set of challenges once it became completely dark. Lumb shed any equipment that he could including his air tanks, his weight belt and, inadvertently, his compass. "It's like an indescribable feeling," he said. "You're so powerless. You're out in the middle of the ocean and you think that you might die, that this might be your last couple hours."
Lumb waved and shouted toward rescuers in the distance.
"They looked like their course was going to be right in line with me, but they always seemed to veer off right at the last minute," he said.
Still alone, Lumb paddled toward what he thought was the beach.
Fighting physical and mental fatigue, Lumb made it to shore after 11 p.m. He was able to catch his breath and the attention of a passerby, who called 911 and was able to arrange contact with Lumb's brother.
A day later and a man from Port St. Lucie contacted NewsChannel 5, claiming that he had located Lumb's lost diving gear several miles north in about eighty feet of water off the coast of Fort Pierce.
Lumb said he will be getting his gear back in the next few days because he is eager to dive again soon.