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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Officials confirm 2 more deaths

The number of water-related deaths rose over the weekend as officials confirmed a woman on a personal watercraft who hit the Channel 5 Bridge on Friday died Sunday.

Meanwhile, dive crews pulled the body of a commercial fishing captain from his boat that sank near the Dry Tortugas Saturday afternoon in an incident that was first reported as a boat collision, but turned out to be a boat taking on water, according to the Coast Guard.

Peggy E. Brunner, 60, of Canton, Mich., died at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami from severe head injuries after hitting one of the bridge pilings during a guided Jet Ski tour at Mile Marker 71, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino.

A good Samaritan stopped to pull her out of the water before she was airlifted to Miami.

About 3 p.m. Saturday, crews with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office dive team removed the body of Jose Antonio Orozco, 41, of Miami, from a 42-foot commercial fishing boat that sank near the Dry Tortugas, according to FWC Lt. David Dipre and Coast Guard Sector Key West spokesman Peter Bermont.

The Coast Guard received an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPERB) at 2 a.m. Friday, but the FWC patrol vessel Peter Gladding was nearby and responded quickly, Dipre said.

The search that later included Coast Guard cutters, an airplane and a helicopter began as a two-boat crash, but the Peter Gladding arrived first to find just one boat overturned and slowly sinking, Dipre said.

The crew of the Peter Gladding pulled mate Recardo Hevia, 48, out of the water -- he was not wearing a life jacket -- and began searching for Orozco. The sheriff's office dive team was called when responders suspected Orozco was still inside the cabin.

He became trapped in the boat after he went to retrieve something in the cabin just before the boat overturned, Dipre said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had not inspected the boat as of Monday to investigate the cause of the incident, Dipre said.

Those two deaths follow the death Wednesday of a New Jersey man who died while diving off Key Largo. On Thursday, a Georgia man was found dead in the water near the Carysfort Reef Light also off Key Largo. Then on Friday, a sailboat from Boot Key Harbor in Marathon struck the Seven Mile Bridge and a 62-year-old man was taken to shore.

He was later discharged from Mariners Hospital in Key Largo after complaining of chest pain, Bermont said.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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