BREAKING: Diver who drowned near Jupiter Inlet ID’d as Leesburg man

Sept 07, 2018
A 69-year-old Leesburg man drowned Thursday near the Jupiter Inlet.

scuba diver who died Thursday near the Jupiter Inlet has been identified as a 69-year-old Leesburg man, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

John Masterjohn became distressed after diving in 80 feet of water about a mile east of the inlet. He returned to the surface with a dive buddy, but lost consciousness and descended again into the water.

The sheriff’s office said Masterjohn was found around two hours after he went missing. He was taken by boat to the 1000 block of North Alternate State Road Road AIA, near Sawfish Bay Park, where paramedics waited.

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Masterjohn was on the Republic VII dive boat, which belongs to the Jupiter Dive Center. A call to the dive shop seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The captain of the Republic VII issued a distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard while scuba divers on the boat searched for the missing man.

Masterjohn was found on the ocean floor close to where he was last seen, the sheriff’s office said.

Masterjohn is the second scuba diver to die in Palm Beach County in the last month.

Randolph Smay, 65, of Port St. Lucie died Aug. 10 while diving near Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach.

According to the most recent annual report by Divers Alert Network, a leading research and dive-safety organization, 39 people died in the U.S. in 2015 as the result of recreational scuba diving incidents. Of that total, 14 died in Florida. 

Most of the victims were ages 50 to 69.