Coast Guard and partner agencies rescue missing diver near Key West

KEY WEST, Fla. — The Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued Andrew Schlieper, 37, of Marathon, Fla., Tuesday after he was reported missing while diving four miles south of Key West.

Coast Guard Sector Key West search-and-rescue watchstanders received a report of a missing diver at approximately 5:20 p.m. stating the diver, Schlieper, had gone in the water two hours prior and hadn’t resurfaced to the boat. The operator of the boat explained that he had drug anchor while Schlieper was diving and was afraid that he drifted away from Schlieper.

The Coast Guard responded immediately by launching two boatcrews from Coast Guard Station Key West and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission diverted a boatcrew in the area to assist and Naval Air Station Key West launched a Navy HH-60 Seahawk helicopter aircrew from Boca Chica, Fla., to search as well.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. the Navy HH-60 Seahawk helicopter aircrew located Schlieper approximately one mile south of Key West. The aircrew was able to hoist Schlieper to safety and then brought Schlieper to Naval Air Station Key West at Boca Chica where he was transferred to local EMS personnel. Local EMS took Schlieper to Lower Keys Medical Center to get checked out. There were no initial reports of injuries or medical issues.

“Mr. Schlieper’s rescue tonight was the result of a well coordinated team effort,” said Capt. Pat DeQuattro, commander of Sector Key West. “U.S. Navy, FWC, and Coast Guard rescue assets performed exceptionally well this evening during an intense nighttime search. We’re very pleased with the results.”

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