Pinellas Deputies Investigate Diving Death
Deputies said the death of a Lakeland woman appears to be accidental.
ST. PETE BEACH – Deputies are investigating the death of a Lakeland woman from injuries she received while diving off St. Pete Beach, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Kimberly Shawn Houtz, 54, of Lakeland, died at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg where she was taken after being brought to shore.
Deputies said the incident happened about 10:15 a.m. on Saturday (March 9) in the Gulf of Mexico about 13 miles west of St. Pete Beach.
Ms. Houtz and her boyfriend were aboard the fishing vessel Down Under, a 27-foot Parker sport cabin fishing boat. They were scuba diving and spearfishing with the boat captain and two other passengers. The divers stopped so Houtz and her boyfriend could dive a popular wreck in about 37 feet of water.
Before she entered the water, witnesses said Ms. Houtz complained about a malfunction with her diving equipment but continued with the dive. Witnesses told detectives that Ms. Houtz and her boyfriend were underwater for less than five minutes when Ms. Houtz rose to the surface of the water in obvious distress.
Occupants on the vessel helped her into the boat. Ms. Houtz complained of nauseousness, abdominal pain, and said she was having trouble breathing. Detectives said the divers started heading back to shore because of Ms. Houtz’s medical issue.
The vessel was underway when Ms. Houtz lost consciousness. Occupants on the boat utilized the VHF radio to call for help and started administering CPR to her.
A rescue boat from Eckerd College Search and Rescue met the Down Under about a mile offshore. A paramedic boarded the fishing boat and used an automated external defibrillator and oxygen to treat Ms. Houtz while they continued to the Tierra Verde Marina.
The U.S. Coast Guard and deputies from the marine unit all responded to the scene. Detectives said they conducted interviews and processed evidence at the scene.
Ms. Houtz’s death appears to be accidental in nature, but deputies said, the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an investigation to determine cause and manner of death.
Pinellas Sheriff | Diving Death | Kimberly Shawn Houtz | Tampabay News
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