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Sea Tow captain speaks about finding missing divers, says they were in 'good spirits'

Posted at 3:04 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-23 07:04:15-04

Capt. Chris Allen with Sea Tow heard the call over radio that six divers were missing east of the Jupiter Inlet Wednesday.

He was searching for a needle in a haystack.

"They're only just heads in the water," said Allen.

But he had a search plan. 

"There's a pretty predictable set and drift to the current that moves off our shore so using that I was able to start in one location and then just kind of follow a line that eventually led me to locating the divers," he said. 

He found a total of seven divers of the Emerald Charters boat sticking together at sea. They were happy to see him. 

"They were all floating, they had buoyancy-controlled dive vests, you know nobody was struggling to swim. Thankfully they all stayed together. They used rescue tubes as a visual indicator, kept together in a group and that made it a lot easier to see them from a distance," said Allen.

Coast Guard crews and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Marine Units were also searching for the divers three nautical miles east of the inlet.

Allen said it's not uncommon for Sea Tow to jump in and help rescue missing divers. 

"You have a large diving community here and we have several charters and I couldn't say that any of them wouldn't have had a problem at one point," said Allen. 

But this incident is the second time Emerald Charters lost sight of all of its divers in less than a month. We've reached out to the owner to get his take on what's happened twice in the last month, he has not responded. 
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has safety regulations in place. Divers must stay within 300 feet of a dive flag or buoy in open water, but any incident in federal waters is investigated by the Coast Guard. 
We have also reached out to the Coast Guard for more information.