Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office, Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin


March 31, 2003

Naranja man charged with reckless driving, drugs

Marathon – A Naranja man was arrested after a deputy, driving his personal vehicle, spotted him driving recklessly and called Sheriff’s Office dispatch to report it.

Deputy John Whortenbury was traveling northbound on Big Pine Key just before 7 a.m. when he saw an older model Hyundai weaving and driving recklessly in traffic. He called it in to Sheriff’s Office dispatchers so deputies to the north could intercept the driver. Deputy Whortenbury then attempted to keep the Hyundai in sight. The driver, later identified as Ray Tatum, Jr., continued driving dangerously northbound, crossing the Seven Mile Bridge, where another Deputy Joel Slough spotted him, measuring his speed at 86 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone.

Deputy Whortenbury caught up to the Hyundai on the bridge and saw the driver open the car’s door and toss something out. The deputy was able to stop and pick the item up because there were no cars behind him on the bridge. The item turned out to be a plastic bag with cocaine inside.

Deputy Joe Cortner finally got Tatum to stop his car at the 48 mile marker in Marathon. Tatum had almost $2,000.00 in cash which was seized for possible forfeiture. He was arrested and charged with reckless driving and possession of cocaine and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Small plane crashes after landing gear collapsed

Key West – A small plane skidded off the runway at the Key West International Airport Monday morning after it’s landing gear collapsed.

The plane was landing at the airport at 11:20 a.m. when the landing gear reportedly collapsed, sending it about 100 feet off the runway on the south side. The pilot, Simon T (Note: yes, that’s his real name) from Naples, Florida was not injured. The plane is registered to Sabe Aviation in Naples.

The incident did not significantly impact airport operations. At no time was the runway closed, and no flights were delayed. The plane was removed by Arnold’s Towing at just after 1 p.m.

March 24, 2003

Marathon man charged with business burglary

Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested Sunday night, charged with breaking in to a local convenience store to steal Budweiser beer and Marlboro cigarettes.

Deputy Greg Korzan initially responded to an alarm call at the Dion’s Quik Mart in Marathon at 10:45 p.m. Sunday.. When he arrived, he found no signs of a break in at the business. About 30 minutes later, a manager from the store also responded after being told of the alarm. When he arrived, he discovered someone had broken in through the back door and had taken beer and cigarettes, along with dollar bills from a donation container on the counter.

A surveillance camera caught the burglar on tape. After viewing the tape, the manager was able to identify the suspect as a man who she caught stealing cigars from the store. She told the deputy the man, later identified as 50 year old Alfredo Rojas, lives under the Boot Key Bridge.

The deputies found Rojas under the bridge. He was wearing the same clothing as the suspect caught on the video tape. Cigarettes matching those stolen were found as well, and two cases of Budweiser beer were found hidden behind a restaurant next to Dion’s.

Rojas was arrested and charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Grassy Key teen charged with machete threats

Grassy Key – A Grassy Key teenager was arrested Saturday morning after he went on a rampage with a machete, breaking windows and threatening deputies.

After a 45 minute standoff with deputies, 19 year old Leslie Stockwell was finally subdued with pepper spray and taken into custody, charged with three counts of threatening deputies with the machete.

When Stockwell’s father called the Sheriff’s Office at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, he said his son had suddenly “flipped out”. He said he’d begun breaking things in the house. He said his son was armed with a machete and had been attacking mailboxes with it, and was now hitting his van with the weapon.

When Deputies Greg Korzan and Joel Slough arrived at 213 Parish Drive, they found Stockwell in front of the house. They ordered him to drop the machete and he refused. He began waving it around above his head, then began walking toward the deputies swinging the weapon.

At gunpoint, the deputies continued ordering him to drop the weapon, but he refused. Sgt. Jake Brady arrived on the scene as backup and Stockwell swung the knife at the Sgt., who had to retreat behind his patrol car to avoid being cut.

Stockwell ran into a wooded area, with deputies following on foot and in patrol cars to keep him in sight. Finally, in the vicinity of Peachtree Avenue and Morton Streets, Deputy Korzan and Sgt. Brady boxed Stockwell in between their two patrol cars and managed to spray him with pepper spray. At that point he dropped the machete, but he ran into bushes alongside the road. He was captured a short distance off the roadway and was taken into custody. He was treated at Fishermen’s Hospital for wounds he inflicted upon him self during the incident. No one else was injured.

March 20, 2003

Key Largo Armed Robbery

Key Largo - Four armed robbers burst into a Key Largo restaurant last night, tied up the owner and employees and escaped after rifling the cash register and taking cash and personal belongings from the employees.

Sheriff’s Deputies responded shortly before 11 p.m. to the Makoto Japanese Restaurant on U.S. Highway One, Key Largo.  The restaurant owner, Tony Khamla Liam, told deputies that around ten p.m. the suspects entered an unlocked back door to the restaurant.  Liam said the suspects, armed with handguns, rounded up the employees, tied them up with black tie wraps and locked them with him in a bathroom. The armed suspects took money from the register, forced one employee to open a safe and took cash, personal belongings and credit cards from the owner and five employees.  The robbers also ripped phones from the walls, closed window blinds and turned off outside lights at the restaurant.

After the robbers left, the owner was able to get out of the bathroom and go outside the restaurant where he flagged down a man on a bicycle.  The passerby went to his nearby home and called police.  The restaurant owner and employees were not hurt in the robbery, but the suspects did threaten to shoot them.

The suspects are described as follows:

Suspect one: White male, black hair, possibly Vietnamese, five feet five, 25-30 years old, spoke with Vietnamese accent, wearing plaid shirt with beige or yellow khaki shorts, armed with a silver gun. Suspect was in good shape, possibly a body builder and was wearing a bandana.

Suspect Two: White male, black hair, wearing tee shirt, jeans, 25-30 years old, five foot three inches tall, medium build, wearing a bandana, armed with black pistol.

Suspect Three: White male, wearing white or tan sneakers with a curved red stripe on the side of the shoe.

Suspect Four: Victims could not provide a description.

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating.  Anyone with information should call Sgt. Corey Bryan at 853-3211.  Crime Stoppers will pay up to a one thousand dollar reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.  Callers may remain anonymous.  The Crime Stoppers’ hotline is 1-800-346-TIPS.

March 19, 2003

Murder-Suicide in Key Largo

Key Largo – A man and woman are dead as a result of a murder-suicide which took place in Key Largo today.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a neighbor who lives on Orange Drive in Key Largo. She said a young boy was at her door, saying his father was hurting his mother. The boy, who is 9 years old, said his two siblings were still in the house with their parents.

Shortly after that, the other two children, a girl aged 13 and a boy aged 6, called dispatchers to say they were downstairs in the house and that their parents were fighting in a bedroom upstairs.

The children reported hearing their father, Carl Ambrosino, and their mother, Ann Cuty, arguing in a bedroom upstairs. They said they heard their mother scream and broke into the room, finding their mother on the floor, bloodied, with their father on top of her. Initial reports indicate the children saw their father holding a knife. They said it looked like he was trying to kill their mother. That is when they fled to get help.

When deputies arrived, they made sure all three children were safe, then entered the house. They found both Ambrosino and Cuty dead. Both bodies showed evidence of knife wounds. Autopsies will be done to determine the exact cause of their deaths. Detectives say the two had been involved in an ongoing dispute with Ambrosino accusing Cuty of infidelity.

The State Department of Children and Family Services is attempting to place the three children with family members.

Homestead man jumps from Long Key Bridge; is rescued off shore

Long Key – A Homestead man who jumped off the Long Key Bridge in an attempt to recover a boat that was floating by was rescued by officers from the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Deputies responded to the Long Key Bridge at 10 a.m. to take a missing person’s report. Three friends were on the bridge, two of them fishing and the other riding his bike. The two who were fishing said they found the third friend’s clothing folded on the bridge, but that he was gone. They speculated that he might have jumped off the bridge for some reason. They weren’t sure when he disappeared.

The Sheriff’s Office, the Coast Guard and the Fish and Wildlife Commission were notified and began searching the water’s in the area. 20 year old Brett Kelley was spotted by a Fish and Wildlife aircraft approximately two miles off the gulf side of the bridge just after noon. A Fish and Wildlife vessel responded and pulled him out of the water.

Kelley, who is from Homestead, said he was riding his bike at about 7 a.m. on the bridge when he saw a small boat float by under the bridge. He said he decided to jump from the bridge and try to recover the boat.

He jumped, and managed to get into the boat. As he was attempting to paddle it to shore, the boat began to take on water. He said it had sunk below the surface when he spotted what he thought was a sandbar he could swim to, so he left the boat. What he thought was a sandbar turned out not to be, and he became caught in the water’s current and began to be swept away. He could not estimate how long he swam after leaving the boat. He was exhausted from his ordeal, and was checked out by a rescue unit, but refused any further medical treatment.

Miami Beach woman’s identity released

Key Largo – Detectives have released the identity of a Miami Beach woman, found washed up on shore at a Key largo campground Monday night.

Josephine Reyes was reportedly visiting the Keys with her boyfriend, 33 year old William Moore, at the time of her death. The two were staying at Captain Jax campground. According to Moore, they argued while at a party at the campground. That is the last time he saw her. Her body was found two hours later washed up on shore at the campground by two people walking in the area.

Detective Charlene Sprinkle-Huff was assigned to investigate the case. An autopsy was performed to determine the cause of her death. Contact the medical examiner’s office for those details.

March 18, 2003

Miami Beach woman dead in Key Largo

Key Largo – A Miami Beach woman visiting the Keys with her boyfriend is dead. She was found in the water near the Key Largo campground where they’ve been staying.

The woman, whose name is being withheld until her family can be notified, was staying at Captain Jax campground at the 103 mile marker. Her boyfriend says they were at an outside party with a bunch of other people Monday when they got into an argument around 8 p.m. He said she walked away from him and he didn’t see her again. Shortly after that, the weather turned bad and it began to rain. Everyone at the party dispersed, returning to their tents and campers. He said she did not return to their shelter.

After the rain stopped, a couple was walking along the water and found her body, washed up on the beach. The Sheriff’s Office was notified and deputies responded.

As deputies and detectives were conducting their investigation at the scene, the boyfriend walked up and asked if anyone had seen his girlfriend. He was shown a Polaroid photo of the victim, who he positively identified as the woman he was looking for.

According to Detective Charlene Sprinkle-Huff, there were no obvious signs of foul play. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of the woman’s death.

California student charged with burglarizing Islamorada business

Islamorada – A California student was arrested Monday, charged with breaking in to the Theater of the Sea and stealing a large number of items including jewelry.

20 year old Christopher Reynolds allegedly broke in to the business Sunday night. According to deputies, it appears Reynolds used a rock to break a glass doors and gain entry. He then smashed seven glass display cases with a fire extinguisher, stealing jewelry, and other items from inside. While in the building, detectives say it appears he cut himself. He left bloody fingerprints and footprints, along with a shirt with blood on it.

A security guard working at the nearby Pelican Cove Resort told Detectives Dillon Corr and David Carey he saw a guest on the property who appeared to be intoxicated and was bleeding. He was able to give detectives the guest’s room number. Employees at the resort said the parents of the person staying in the room were up in the middle of the night looking for him. They reportedly said he’d been missing for some time and they couldn’t find him.

When the detectives knocked on the door of the room, Reynolds answered. He said he’d been in his room all night. The detectives looked in the door and saw a small ring on the floor. The ring was later identified as having been stolen during the break in at Theater of the Sea.

Detectives obtained permission to search Reynolds room. Inside, they found some of the stolen property. Reynolds had several cuts as well, including a deep one on the bottom of his foot.

Reynolds was arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Damage to Theater of the Sea is estimated to be in excess of $6,000.00 and almost $2,000.00 worth of property was stolen during the break in.


March 17th, 2003

Key Largo man charged with stabbing his mother’s boyfriend

Key Largo – A 25 year old Key Largo man has been charged with stabbing his mother’s boyfriend Sunday night.

Deputies arrived at the scene to find the victim, 42 year old Billy Costner bleeding from two puncture wounds to the chest and stomach. He said he and Steven Bennett, his girlfriend’s son, got into an argument just before 11:30 p.m. Sunday out in front of their house at 132 Second Court in Key Largo. He said Bennett stabbed him twice with a knife. Bennett was not on the scene, and Costner said he wasn’t sure of his location, but gave deputies permission to search the house they all live in together on Second Court.

Costner was transported to Mariner’s hospital, then airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for treatment.

Deputies entered the house to search for Bennett. No one was inside, but they found a knife in the kitchen which may have been the one used to stab Costner. As deputies were continuing their investigation outside the house, Bennett returned to the scene. He was placed under arrest, charged with aggravated battery. According to deputy’s reports, Bennett made several admissions during the course of his arrest indicating he was the one who stabbed Costner.

Bennett’s mother was also at the scene. She tried several times to enter her house after being warned by deputies that it was an active crime scene and she was not allowed access. She was finally arrested and charged with resisting arrest without violence.

Both Bennetts were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


March 14, 2003

Marathon man charged with shotgun threats

Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested in the early morning hours after a standoff with police. The standoff began after an incident in Boot Key Harbor that detectives are describing as “road rage on the water”.

The United States Coast Guard called the Sheriff’s Office to assist them with the situation, which began at 8 p.m. Four people from out of town who were having dinner on board a boat in the Harbor called to report being threatened by a man with a shotgun.

Deputies were transported out to the victim’s boat to take a report. The victims said they were on sitting on the boat, anchored, when another boat passed close by. They reportedly yelled at the man operating the boat, telling him he was passing too closely. The man, later identified as 63 year old Jeffrey Laning of Marathon, turned his boat around, yelled, “I’ll show you close”, allegedly produced a shotgun, pointed it at them, and yelled, “I’ll kill you.” The victims dove for cover, after which Laning grabbed his gaff and began trying to grab their anchor line with it, telling them he was going to tow them out to sea.

One of the victims grabbed a spotlight and began shining it in Laning’s eyes. Laning swung the gaff at him several times before returning to his attempts at gaffing the anchor line. Laning eventually gave up trying to grab the anchor line and left the area. That’s when the victims called for help.

The victims were able to obtain the registration from Laning’s boat, and deputies obtained Laning’s home address by running a check on the registration. Deputies went to his house on 29th Street in Marathon and found the vessel tied up in back. It fit the description provided by the victims.

While deputies were at the house, Laning walked outside his door briefly. They ordered him to stay where he was and show them his hands, but Laning quickly reentered the house, turned out all the lights and refused to answer when deputies tried to make contact.

Deputies were stationed around the perimeter of his house, and negotiators were called to the scene to attempt to talk with Laning. The Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics team was called out as well, due to the possibility that Laning was armed and dangerous. Laning eventually agreed to surrender and he was taken into custody without further incident. He was charged with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 11, 2003

Sugarloaf School student charged with marijuana sales

Sugarloaf Key – A 14 year old Sugarloaf Middle School student has been arrested for selling marijuana to students at the school.

Kelli-Ann Ross of Big Pine Key has been charged with sale of marijuana, a second degree felony. She is accused of selling small amounts of the drug to seven school students on school grounds.

School authorities learned of the illegal activity on March 6th. They called Ross in to the Assistant Principal Jim Hall’s office and confronted her. She admitted to selling marijuana, turning a small amount over to Hall, and handing over $55.00 in cash – proceeds of her drug sales.

Ross cooperated with the drug investigation, giving Hall the names of those students she sold the marijuana to. The seven students she named were then confronted as well. All of them admitted to purchasing the marijuana from Ross. Two of the students in question were members of the Sheriff’s Office Cadet/Explorer program. They have been dismissed from the program.

Ross was arrested and charged with sale of marijuana. All seven students who purchased marijuana were issued Juvenile Citations which will require them to go to drug education classes, participate in community service and attend counseling.

Bomb threat written on bathroom wall at Coral Shores High School

Plantation Key – Sheriff’s detectives are investigating a threatening message found on a bathroom wall at Coral Shores High School.

The message, which threatened to blow up the school on March 13th, was written on the wall of the boy’s bathroom near the gymnasium. Detectives are not releasing the exact contents of the message, citing ongoing investigations.

Detectives say they suspect the message was written in an effort to have the school closed Thursday, making it a four day weekend. Friday there is no school because it is a professional day for teachers.

School authorities have decided that school will proceed normally on Thursday. Any absence from school will NOT be an excused absence. There will be extra patrols that day, however, to make sure students attending school are safe.

Investigations into who wrote the threatening message are continuing.

Tampa man dies while snorkeling

Key Largo – A 21 year old Tampa man died while snorkeling at Molasses Reef Monday afternoon.

Mackinsey Edmonson was on board a vessel rented by him and his three friends. They were in the vicinity of Molasses Reef when the incident occurred. Two of his friends were scuba diving and Edmonson was snorkeling on the surface with another friend when he began to have trouble. His friend tried to help him back to the boat but he pulled away from her.

A nearby dive boat stopped to help. They managed to get him on board that boat and began doing Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). A Fish and Wildlife boat responded and picked up Mackinsey, along with the people who were performing CPR. They transported Mackinsey to shore where they were met by rescue units. Mackinsey was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

 March 10, 2003

Miami man charged with impersonating police officer

Islamorada – A Miami man on board a vessel stopped by the Sheriff’s Islamorada patrol boat Sunday afternoon was arrested after he falsely claimed to be a police officer.

37 year old Rodolfo Fernandez, of Miami, was on board a boat stopped in the vicinity of Whale Harbor by the Sheriff’s office Sunday at 1:20 p.m. As Deputy Nelson Sanchez tried to do a routine safety check of the vessel, Fernandez continually interrupted him, interfering with his ability to do his job. Deputy Sanchez warned Fernandez to be quiet and allow him to perform the safety check. That is when Fernandez identified himself as an officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department. When Deputy Sanchez asked to see his police ID, Fernandez said he didn’t have it with him. When the deputy asked which police station he worked out of, Fernandez finally admitted he wasn’t a police officer at all. He said he works for the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer department.

Sanchez placed Fernandez under arrest for impersonating a police officer. A search turned up a small amount of cocaine, so he was further charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Notes/Weekend traffic wrap up:

Monroe County - The Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating the following accidents. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the accident scenes. The information listed below is based on initial dispatch information, is preliminary in nature and may not be completely accurate. It is provided as a courtesy only. Call the Florida Highway Patrol for details:

·        One vehicle accident Friday at 6:22 p.m. near the ramp to Boca Chica Naval Air station, lower Keys. Victim’s car hit a concrete utility pole. Victim was airlifted via Trauma Star to Miami.

·        Motorcycle vs. truck accident Saturday at 6 p.m. at the 9 mile marker of highway U.S. one on Rockland Key. One person (the motorcycle driver) was transported via rescue to the hospital. It appears from the call information that one person in the truck fled the scene and was later caught.

·        Three vehicle accident with injuries at the 82 mile marker in Islamorada Saturday at 9:52 p.m. Possible head injuries involved. At least one person transported via rescue to the hospital.

·        Three vehicle accident on Summerland Key in front of Murray’s Food Mart Sunday at 2:21 a.m. Trauma Star transported one victim to Miami. Rescue transported at least two others to the hospital.

·        Pedestrian vs. vehicle accident at the 103.4 mile marker in Key Largo Sunday at 7:25 a.m. One person transported by rescue to the hospital.

·        Two vehicle accident with a fuel spill on the Bahia Honda Bridge Sunday at 1:15 p.m. One person transported via Trauma Star to Miami. At least two others extricated from one of the vehicles and transported by rescue to the hospital.


March 6, 2003

Search warrant leads to two arrests for drugs

Marathon – A search warrant served on a Marathon motel room led to two arrests Wednesday.

Detectives from the Special Investigations Division obtained the search warrant as part of an ongoing investigation into drug activity at the Seaward Motel in Marathon. They searched room 101, and a car belonging to 65 year old Bobby Mason. They found 60 grams of crack cocaine under the hood of the car. A woman with Mason, 42 year old Debra Miller, had a small amount of cocaine, marijuana and paraphernalia with her when she was searched.

Both Mason and Miller were arrested. Mason for trafficking in cocaine and Miller for possession of cocaine, marijuana and paraphernalia. Detectives seized Mason’s Oldsmobile, and $671.00 in cash.

This was not the first arrest for either one. Miller was arrested in September of 2002 at the Seaward Motel after deputies responding to a call spotted drugs in plain view in her motel room. Mason was arrested two weeks ago after Special Investigations detectives served another search warrant on the same room, Room 101, and found him to be in possession of cocaine. Both Mason and Miller were out on bond on those cases, reportedly awaiting trial. They’ve now been booked into jail on the new charges.

March 3, 2003

Man beaten, robbed on Stock Island

Stock Island – A Stock Island man is in jail charged with beating another man over the head and stealing his money Sunday in the early morning hours.

The victim says he was sleeping in his tent near the Dog Track on Stock Island at 2:45 a.m. when the attack occurred. He said he was awakened by a man calling him from outside the tent. The man identified himself as Joe and said he had to talk to him.

The victim said he’d had an earlier conversation with a man he knew only as “Joe” about buying some tools from him. He said he exited his tent, and was immediately attacked and hit on the head several times. His attacker, the man he knew as “Joe”, demanded money and said he would kill him if he didn’t hand it over. After being hit three times in the head with an unknown weapon, he handed over the cash and Joe left the area.

When deputies arrived, the victim described his attacker, and said all he knows is that Joe lives with a woman named Sandra on Robyn Lane, Stock Island. Deputy David Lariz, Jr. recognized the description as being a 47 year old man named Joseph Chakos. Detective Lionel Vargas was called to the scene to assist in the investigation. A photo line up was done and the victim identified his attacker as Chakos.

Chakos was found a few hours later and was arrested. He was charged with robbery and aggravated battery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

The victim was transported to the hospital where he received 8 staples in his head and was released.

Road rage leads to threat with handgun

Key Largo – A Coral Springs man was booked into jail after he threatened another man with a handgun in what appears to be a road rage related incident.

33 year old Daren Clark was charged with aggravated assault for pointing a silver colored handgun at a vacationer and his family from Flint, Michigan. According to reports by Deputy Jason Madnick, the altercation began at 5:20 p.m. Friday as the two men were driving on the 18 mile stretch. The victim said he was southbound in his vehicle with Clark following closely behind. He said Clark began gesturing at him, then pulled in front of him and “cut him off”. The victim then followed Clark’s vehicle into a parking lot in Key Largo, reportedly to get his tag number.

In the parking lot, the victim was reportedly attempting to write down Clark’s tag number. Clark had gone into a store in the plaza, but when he saw the victim in the parking lot, he walked out and pulled a gun out of his pant’s pocket, pointing it at the victim. A witness saw the incident and stepped between the two men. Clark then got into his car and left the parking lot.

Clark was stopped a short distance away. The gun was found in the console of his vehicle. It was loaded and had one bullet in the chamber, ready to fire. Clark admitted to pointing the gun at the victim. He said he did it because he was “in fear for his life.”

At the time of the confrontation, both men had small children in the car with them. The victim’s wife was also in the car with him. Clark’s wife was following him in a separate vehicle.

Woman airlifted after golf cart accident

Key Largo – A Key Largo woman was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami after she was injured in a golf cart accident at 2 a.m. Saturday at the Ocean Reef Club.

According to reports by Deputy Keith Nyman, 23 year old Suzannah O’Conner was driving the cart, traveling northeast on Marina Drive when she reportedly swerved into the oncoming traffic lane. She then swerved back into her lane, rolling the cart over. She and her passenger, Michael Kavanagh of Key Largo, were pinned under the cart. A passerby pulled them out from underneath the cart and called for assistance.

O’Conner was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Kavanagh was transported via ambulance to Mariner’s Hospital.

Illinois man dies while on dive trip

Key Largo – An Illinois man died while on a dive trip off of Key Largo Saturday morning.

57 year old Ronald Alan Curtis of Rockford Illinois was reportedly on a dive trip with the dive boat “Aquanuts” diving in approximately 27 feet of water off Elbow Reef when he surfaced and called for help. Another dive boat in his vicinity responded to his cries for help and the captain of that vessel attempted to pull Curtis on board, but couldn’t do it on his own. Others in the area also responded and assisted in getting Curtis on board.

He was not breathing, so CPR was begun, and the boat began traveling toward shore. They called the Coast Guard for assistance, and the Coast Guard met the vessel and began assisting with CPR.

When the boat arrived at shore, they were met by an ambulance and Curtis was pronounced dead. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.