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Freak accident kills dive boat skipper

AUG. 6 -- A dive boat captain was killed last weekend near Garrison Bight, on Key West, Fla., when his hair apparently got caught in the vessel’s engine.

Ralph Chiaro, 36, was returning to the Subtropic Dive Center last Friday afternoon when the boat he was driving, Subtropic’s 42-foot Burpee, called Island Diver, began experiencing engine problems, a news report says. Chiaro opened the hatch and leaned over the engine to investigate the problem. That’s when his hair became entangled in the engine and he was instantly killed, the report says.

Chiaro had been employed at Subtropic for seven years. He was hired as a divemaster, according to the report, and was captain and marine safety officer at the time of his death. Chiaro had lived in Key West for nearly 17 years.

“We will miss you, Ralph, as a person, divemaster, captain and friend,” Subtropic staff members say in a prepared statement released a day after the accident.

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the incident.

Jason Fell