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Propellers Cut Florida Boater’s Legs

A mate aboard the Key Westbased dive boat Sea Eagle was injured Tuesday morning after being hit by the vessel's propellers, according to the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard responders took a cellphone call at 11:32 a.m. from another boater reporting that a mate was injured as the charter boat made its way to the Cayman Salvor wreck about seven miles south of Key West, said Coast Guard Sector Key West spokeswoman Lt. Kara Lavin.

Dive master Larry Edens of Key West apparently slipped off the 60-foot, 37-ton charter boat and his calf hit one of the propellers, said Captain's Corner Dive Center owner Leslie Levis.

There were eight passengers on the Sea Eagle when the incident occurred, Lavin said. There were no other boats involved.

Responding Coast Guard crews from Key West boarded the Sea Eagle and rendered first aid while the boat drove to Sector Key West, where waiting paramedics decided to airlift Edens from Trumbo Point to Miami, Lavin said.

He was conscious and in good spirits before the helicopter ride, Levis said.

The Coast Guard said Edens suffered cuts to both legs, but Levis was still trying to gather more information Tuesday night.

Whatever the scope of Edens' injuries, they did not appear life threatening, she added.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as well as the Coast Guard are investigating the cause of the incident, Lavin said.

It is not a criminal case, she added.

The Sea Eagle has been a familiar feature at Key West Bight since 1985 and was featured in the James Bond movie "License to Kill."

The incident occurred just three days after FWC Officer Wade Hefner was released from Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

Hefner, a 24-year veteran of Keys waters, was hurt when he was apparently ejected from his patrol boat Thursday in South Sound Creek off Key Largo, near John Pennekamp State Park, on his way to a routine call.

Hefner was airlifted to Miami, where he got numerous stitches. What caused him to be thrown is under investigation.

And Tuesday's incident comes two months after Judith Nicole Montague, also known as "Diver Judy," was critically injured by a yacht's propellers in Key West Bight. Montague is now home and recovering from severe cuts to her face and torso.



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