Scott Keegan loved to spear fish, scuba dive and kite board, giving his family plenty of reasons to worry about him.
But he safely excelled at it all.
Instead, it was a “freak accident” in Boynton Beach that took his life just a couple days before Christmas, Keegan’s sister Christine Keegan Hamrick told The Palm Beach Post.
Keegan of Pompano Beach was on a boat with a group of friends Dec. 21 when he hit his head on a low bridge in a canal at Miner Road and fell into the water, according to Boynton Beach Police.
“For some inexplicable reason, he stood up,” Keegan’s mom, Nancie Keegan, said. “By the time they told him to get down he hit his head on the concrete bridge.”
Nancie Keegan said she was told her son’s friends dove in after him but couldn’t find him. Emergency divers later did, and took him to Delray Medical Center where he died the next morning, police said. She said her son was under water for about 20 minutes.
It was far too difficult, and soon, for Keegan’s friends to talk Wednesday about the accident, which remains under investigation, said Boynton Beach police spokesperson Stephanie Slater.
Keegan, who was 36, helped his friend David Shrader work on his boat and as a thank-you Shrader took him to dinner with the group. The accident happened on their way back from the restaurant, Nancie Keegan said.
“Dave was really excited to get Scott out on the boat. The boat had been sitting in the driveway for some time. Scott wanted to come help Dave. He really appreciated the help. We just wanted to go and have a nice evening out on the boat,” said David’s wife, Amy Delbridge-Shrader.
Delbridge-Shrader and Keegan had been friends for about 10 years. They met while working as servers at the City Fish Market in Boca Raton. They moved up to bartender. Keegan stayed in the restaurant field and Delbridge-Shrader moved on to other things, but they remained close through the years.
“We just hit it off. Everybody hits it off with Scott. He was an incredible guy. He’s like the coolest guy you know. How do you explain the coolest guy you know?” she said. “His personality was infectious, people wanted to be around him. He could make people feel happy and alive.”
Keegan had recently showed off his artistic side to his friends — pieces of art made out of wood he worked on with his dad. Delbridge-Shrader said he cut out shapes of marine life.
And Keegan was trying to teach his friend Dave how to fish. The group joked that the two could start a business on a small fishing boat and Keegan would be the tour guide.
Keegan was a bartender at Plunge Beach Hotel in Broward County. In addition to his mom, his dad Tom, and his sister, Keegan leaves behind his nieces, Emma Grace Hamrick and Piper Anne Hamrick.
“They were just crazy about their Uncle Scott,” said Nancie Keegan. “He was wonderful with them and he was just wonderful with people.”
Because Keegan’s sister and nieces live in South Carolina, they didn’t get to see each other as often as they’d like. But when they did, Keegan made sure he had plenty of activities planned.
He’d take them snorkeling, they’d make GoPro movies together, and he raised caterpillars so the girls could watch them develop and turn into butterflies, Keegan Hamrick said of her younger brother.
“They only have one uncle so they had a very special bond,” she said.
Keegan also had a 16-year-old dog named Deak who is now being cared for by his parents.
Since her son’s death, Nancie Keegan has learned how many friends Scott had, a number that has “amazed” her.
She also learned that he wanted to be an organ tissue donor. She was contacted by officials asking her if she wanted to follow through with his wishes. She said yes.
“I was thinking his death had to mean something,” she said.