Coast Guard responds to overturned Tow Boat U.S. vessel

ISLAMORADA, Fla. — Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders responded to a report Thursday evening of an overdue Tow Boat U.S. vessel out of Islamorada, Fla.

Tow Boat U.S. dispatch in Islamorada had lost communications with their own vessel that had been responding to an aground vessel offshore of Cotton Key.

Station Islamorada launched their 22-foot shallow water smallboat crew in immediate response to the report. Sector Key West watchstanders established communications with the crew of the aground vessel who reported seeing the Tow Boat U.S. vessel thirty minutes before, but was unable to establish communications at the time.

Station Islamorada’s boatcrew located the Tow Boat U.S. vessel a short time later overturned, hard aground and on a mud bank. Diane McCune, a passenger aboard the Tow Boat U.S. vessel, was located nearby with minor injuries. Her husband, Lee McCune, was reportedly trapped beneath the super structure of the overturned vessel.

Station Islamorada launched a second boat with a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy and five personnel from the fire department aboard, including EMS and operators to cut the hull of the overturned vessel. Once they were able to release Lee McCune from beneath the vessel, EMS pronounced him deceased at the scene.

“We are saddened by the loss of one of our local responders,” said Coast Guard Capt. Pat DeQuattro, Sector Key West commander. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mr. McCune.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has taken lead on the investigation.

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