The Spiegel Grove Abyss Claims Jonathan Walser, Scott Stanley, and Kevin Coughlin

The Spiegel Grove Abyss Claims Jonathan Walser, Scott Stanley, and Kevin Coughlin
Incident LocationDiver Full Names (Deceased)
Florida Keys, KilargoJonathan Walser, Scott Stanley, Kevin Coughlin

Diving at the Spiegel Grove, a renowned dive spot off the Florida Keys, attracts tens of thousands of recreational divers and tourists annually. While it is generally safe and exciting, occasional deviations from established rules can lead to tragic outcomes. This video recounts two true stories of incidents at the Spiegel Grove, shedding light on the importance of adherence to safety guidelines.

The USS Spiegel Grove

The USS Spiegel Grove, a Thomason type dock Landing ship of the United States Navy, was scuttled in 2002 to become an artificial reef. Named after Rutherford B. Hayes, the ship boasts a rich history, including supporting space flight operations. After being decommissioned in 1989, it became a popular dive site, attracting divers of varying skill levels.

Sinking and Transformation

In May 2002, the 12-ton anchors dropped, and ballast tanks were flooded to sink the Spiegel Grove as an artificial reef. However, an unexpected rollover occurred, complicating the process. Despite this setback, the ship now rests upside down, serving as the largest artificial reef in Florida.

Dive Site Details

Situated 6 miles off Kilargo in the Florida Keys, the Spiegel Grove is an expansive 510 ft long and 84 ft wide, with the upper deck at 60 ft below the surface. While the upper deck is considered a safe and enjoyable dive for many, penetration dives into the labyrinthine interior require advanced certification.

Tragedy Strikes

On March 16th, 2007, tragedy unfolded when four experienced and advanced certified divers—Jonathan Walser, Scott Stanley, Howard SP, and Kevin Coughlin—entered the water above the Spiegel Grove wreckage.

Unfortunate Choices

The group, having enjoyed a dive the day before, believed they could navigate the ship without additional safety gear. With only single tanks, they descended into the ship’s depths, exploring compartments without guidelines or extra tanks.

Catastrophic Dive

As they reached the lower deck and the pump room at 135 ft, the divers encountered thick silt, reducing visibility to zero. Disoriented and low on air, they frantically searched for an exit. In the chaos, Howard Spelter surfaced and called for help, but Kevin Coughlin was found unconscious and later pronounced dead.

Recovery Efforts

Recovery efforts, hampered by rough seas and fast currents, resumed the next day. Jonathan Walser and Scott Stanley were found lifeless in an off-limits area approximately 130 ft down. Autopsies revealed that all three divers had drowned.

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What is the Spiegel Grove?

The Spiegel Grove is a sunken ship off the Florida Keys, intentionally scuttled in 2002 to become an artificial reef and popular dive site.

What happened during the tragic dive?

Four experienced divers, Jonathan Walser, Scott Stanley, Howard SP, and Kevin Coughlin, encountered difficulties exploring the Spiegel Grove’s interior, leading to a tragic incident where Kevin Coughlin lost his life.

Why is the Spiegel Grove considered challenging?

The Spiegel Grove offers diverse diving opportunities, but its labyrinthine interior requires advanced certification. Safety precautions are crucial, as demonstrated by the unfortunate incident mentioned.

Rebecca Penrose
Rebecca, an experienced blogger, delves into the world of diving accidents, sharing insights, stories, and valuable lessons learned. Dive in and explore the depths of underwater safety.
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