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October 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 29, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Father and Son Divers Sue the Boat that Hit Them

from the October, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The father and son run over by a dive boat's propellers in August 2011 have filed a federal civil lawsuit against the Florida Keys Dive Center, one of its boat captains and crew. Jared C. Adkins, then 39, of Harrington, DE, was with his 11-year-old son, Calvin, when they were run over by the 46-foot Big Dipper just after getting in the water near Conch Reef, nine miles south of Key Largo. Both suffered severe injuries and required emergency surgery after being airlifted to Miami hospitals following the incident. The Adkins' attorney, John Hickey of Miami, said Calvin suffered permanent brain injury due to the incident. Named in the lawsuit are Florida Keys Dive Center, boat captain John Brady, mate John Burton and the dive center's operators, Thomas and Pamela Timmerman.

The Adkinses were taking part in a drift dive with about 15 other people, with the boat drifting as well, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports of the incident. Both father and son were in the water off the stern of the Big Dipper when it ran them over. The lawsuit states that Brady left the engines running while the crew put divers in the water at three different locations. The Adkinses entered the water at the last location with their gear under the direction of crew.

"When [the Adkinses] were in the transom of the vessel and after they jumped into the water, the master and his mate and divemaster did not communicate properly with each other and did not maintain a proper lookout," the lawsuit states. "Yet, the master put the engines in reverse and moved the vessel back over the two divers."

Hickey alleges the position of life rafts and layout of the Big Dipper made it so that "the person sitting at the helm could not see the transom of the vessel or anyone in the transom of the vessel." He further alleges the charter company failed to keep a proper lookout of divers and failed to provide a properly trained captain and crew, which ultimately led to the incident. He also alleges the Florida Keys Dive Center "misrepresented" facts on its website, mainly that "the personnel were not all employed by and were not 'of' the Florida Keys Dive Center." "We believe this is a situation where the crew are paid as independent contractors and I think there's a little bit of shell game," Hickey said of the allegations regarding the website.

The lawsuit will be heard before U.S. District Senior Judge James Lawrence King. A court date has yet to be scheduled.

- - Adam Linhardt, The Key West Citizen

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