Diver safety bill moving ahead

Posted at 5:49 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 17:49:22-05

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. – Local diver Rob Murphy was run over by a boat while diving in 2009. He lost both legs below the knee and now walks on prosthetics.

“We had a dive flag,” Murphy explained. “It was all legal and properly displayed and unfortunately it just wasn't enough that day.”

A bill swiftly moving through the Florida Senate could potentially make diving safer. The ‘Divers Down Warning Devices’ bill expands the type of devices allowed to alert boaters that submerged divers are in the area.

Murphy says Senate Bill 846 is a good start, but more needs to be done.

“I read it and you know I like the intention of trying to help keep divers safe,” Murphy said. “Unfortunately in reading the bill it seems like kind of a feel good bill that will have very little practical impact on diver safety.”

Murphy would like to see larger dive flags required and stiffer penalties for boaters not adhering to speed and distance requirements.

“People’s lives are at stake,” Murphy detailed. “Please, please watch. Always be on the lookout for dive flags and respect them. These are people on the water. Whether you think you're right or wrong, there's lives at stake so just give them a little space.”

Tuesday the bill moved a little further and was passed in the Florida Senate during its third reading. The companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives is moving  little slower. The house bill is on its second reading and has been placed on a special calendar.