BULLETIN: BELOW IS A STORY POSTED OCTOBER 21st. ON NOVEMBER 15th NEWS REPORTS OUT OF CDNN NEWS SAY THAT JOHNSIE HUDSPETH 59, A REALTOR IN ELKIN, FLORIDA DIED AFTER SHE ENCOUNTERED PROBLEMS WHILE DIVING OFF THE AMORAY DIVE BOAT ( THE SAME OUTFIT THAT LARRY REEVES WAS DIVING WITH WHEN HE DOVE ON THE BENWOOD) AT MOLASSES REEF. (MOLASSES REEF IS ADJACENT TO THE BENWOOD).
Dive boats operating within the John Pennekamp State Park Underwater Preserve have been taking divers to the wreck of the Benwood for 50 years. Picturesque. Shallow (50ft max,) close to shore, the Benwood is considered a safe dive and is suitable for novice scuba divers. However on Tuesday August 20th, the body of a diver was pulled from the Florida Keys waters close to the Benwood.
According a U.S. Coast Guard press release, a 67-year-old Blount County man died Tuesday in a scuba accident in the Florida Keys. Larry Reeves of Maryville, TN was diving on or near the Benwood wreck dive site, four miles east of Rodriguez Key, according to the Coast Guard.
Crew members from the Coast Guard Station in Islamorada responded about 2:30 p.m. to a call from the Coral Princess I (a glass bottom snorkeling boat that was being used for an Army Ranger training charter) of an unconscious diver on the Key Largo flat-top pontoon dive boat The Amoray. Reeves was brought on board the Coral Princess 1 and off-duty Army and Navy medical personnel who were on the glass bottom boat began administering CPR. After 20-minutes CPR efforts were reportedly ended.
A Coast Guard crew escorted the two boats to the Port Largo Marina where marine casualty investigators and deputies from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were waiting to begin investigations into the incident.
UPDATE: Two days after the death of Mr. Reeves, a TN TV station is quoting his wife as saying that she was in the water as his scuba-diving partner when the accident happened -- she said that he became unconscious shortly after entering the water Tuesday afternoon to explore the Benwood.
The Benwood, a WW2 Victory ship was sunk in 1942 after colliding with another ship - The Tuttle - both were travelling without lights to avoid German submarines. Because she was close to shore much of the ship was stripped before being declared a protected wreck in 1959.
I used the Benwood for a photo shoot earlier this year. The picture above was taken beside the coral encrusted bow. The bow is the most intact part of the ship. One Florida dive website describes why the ship is popular with divers: "the primary deck has been punctured in many places forming a network of "nooks and crannies." These provide important fish habitat but are not large enough to allow diver entry."
Much of the is scattered around the bottom, making for an interesting, photo friendly dive. So safe is the dive that can be a waiting line of charter boats to moor up to the Benwood's marker buoys.
Obituary for the late Larry Reeves: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/knoxnews/obituary.aspx?n=larry-herman-reeves&pid=134831111
CUTLINE - Knoxnews TV posted a map showing the location of the Benwood Wreck and where the body of a Maryville TN diver was found.
Stephen Weir photographing the hull of the Benwood - February 2009.