According to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, a 20-year-old Utah man died Friday after spearfishing and snorkeling in the ocean off the coast of Martin County. According to Martin County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy John Budensiek, Maxwell Roberts and four others were in a boat about two and a half miles off St. Lucie Inlet when the event happened. .
He said the Sheriff’s Marine Section was notified of the disappearance of the diver, identified as Roberts, just before 11 a.m., and a “massive search” was launched immediately afterwards. According to Budensiek, the four individuals told him that their buddy “dived freely into the water with a speargun, flippers and mask and did not resurface in a timely manner.” “They had all jumped into the water themselves, tried to find their friend and couldn’t locate their friend,” Budensiek said. “They had tried to find their friend themselves.” “As a result, this served as the impetus for making a call to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.”
On Friday afternoon, a large group of Martin County sheriff’s deputies and fire officials, along with their cars, remained in Sandsprit Park, where the center console boat the five guys had been out on was located. During a speech at Sandsprit, Budensiek mentioned that Roberts is originally from Utah but now calls Vero Beach his vacation home.
According to him, a dive team from Martin County Fire Rescue located him in water about 55 feet deep. “Our dive team reported to us that the deceased was on the bottom, and it looked like he had been spearfishing; the spear gun he was using was out…”and he just didn’t come to the surface,” Budensiek said. “He was still there.”
Men believed to have been on the boat or associated with the group declined to comment. According to Budensiek, the five individuals were friends with each other and it appeared that they were all in good physical health. They did not use scuba tanks, but rather practiced free diving. It appears the incident was an accident; nevertheless, an autopsy will be performed.