Davie man’s diving death is fifth off South Florida shores in recent months

Posted: 09/16/2011 in all marine news

Juan Ortega – 

In the latest of a spate of diving deaths off South Florida shores during the past two months, a Davie man hunting for lobsters off Dania Beach on Sunday accidentally drowned, officials said.

Robert Hocke, 62, a married father of two, was a “very devoted family man” whose passion was “the water.” He often went boating, body-boarded at the beach with his two grandchildren, and attended beachside concerts, said his grieving daughter, Michelle Hocke Bluman, 36, of Atlanta.

Hocke, who had about 20 years of diving experience, had worked for the U.S. Coast Guard during the Vietnam War era and a few years ago retired from the auto-repair industry, officials and relatives said.

Hocke disappeared during a dive about 1 p.m. Sunday and his body was recovered four hours later about a mile south of Dania Beach Pier. He accidentally died of asphyxia due to drowning, the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday.

“He was a special man,” Bluman said. “He was always giving with his time and known for helping people, including through his auto-repair shop. Customers were always giving him gifts, because of how he treated them fairly.”

Hocke’s death is at least the fifth diving-related fatality off South Florida and the Keys since July, according to news reports.

Even though some of those who recently died were experienced divers, the Coast Guard urges people to thoroughly train, and “to keep safety at the forefront of every maritime outing,” Petty Officer Nick Ameen said Monday.

“The death of one diver is one too many, and can usually be avoided through proper equipment maintenance and thorough training,” Ameen said.

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