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Latino Daily News

Thursday October 6, 2011

Divers Fernando Garcia Puerta, Paul Kline Spend 2 Hrs in Shark-Infested Water After Boat Leaves

Divers Fernando Garcia Puerta, Paul Kline Spend 2 Hrs in Shark-Infested Water After Boat Leaves

Photo: Divers Fernando Garcia Puerta and Paul Kline Spend 2 Hrs in Shark-Infested Water After Boat Leaves

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In what must have been a frightening experience, two tourists found themselves in open, shark-infested water, clinging to a buoy, wondering if they would ever be found.

Sunday, Spanish tourist Fernando Garcia Puerta and Paul Kline or Austin, TX were members of a group of 25 tourists that were taken out by RJ Diving Ventures of Miami Beach.

The two men, both fathers, had been deep-sea diving, but when they returned to the surface they realized that the boat, and the other tourists were gone, having left them behind, with the sun going down.

They first suspected that while they were under water an emergency with another diver must have come up, requiring the boat to leave them behind, and assumed another would be sent out to get them.

When hat did not happen, they realized they were in trouble.

Two hours later, Elie Trichet was heading back to Miami from Key Largo on his yacht when he saw the men clinging to the buoy in full diving gear.

“You could notice a strong feeling of relief [when they saw us],’’ Trichet, a diving instructor himself, told the Miami Herald.

When the men got back to shore, the U.S. Coast Guard was informed of the day’s life-threatening events. A spokesperson for the Coast Guard said they were investigating the incident and would be speaking with those involved.

When contacted by the Herald, the captain of the diving boat, Mike Beach, said, “Everybody is OK, no one is hurt, everyone is happy. That’s all.”

It is not clear how it was that no one noticed the divers were not on the boat when it left.

Kline has talked with Sasha Boulanger, owner of South Beach Divers, which contracts with RJ Diving Ventures.

Boulanger said, “We are the ones who facilitate the trip and connect A with B. I must assume a certain degree of responsibility, but unfortunately, this falls on [RJ Diving’s] back. They are in control of the divers and their security.” He pointed out that South Beach Divers has an impeccable record.

Kline, the father of six said Beach apologized, “but I don’t know how this could have happened. There are very specific procedures to follow when on board. I’m happy that we are still alive but that may not have happened and that stays with me.”