Monday, May 04, 2015

Tragedy in Key West


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 82, low 72)


We always have fun in Key West and since we moved to Venture Out, we’re pretty close and go down often. 

It’s was always a fun place to be, until last night.

We got there about 7pm, parked by Mallory Square and walked over to where the Catman performs with his trained cats.

I’ve resisted his shows because I worry about the cats jumping through fire hoops.  I’ve also seen him carrying the cats in cages on the back of a scooter or bicycle and I didn’t like that. 

Anyway, our friend Heidi who is also an animal lover said his show was great, he obviously loved his cats and they were well treated.  We decided to give him a chance.

We watched him set up, then go get his cats.  Maybe it’s just us, but we thought it was a tad boring.  The rest of the crowd appeared to love the show.  He had some sort of thick foreign accent and we had a hard time understanding him.


We didn’t wait for the fire rings because we were getting bored.

Maybe when you have cats that make you do tricks, you don’t need to see more.

Oh wait, his CATS DID THE TRICKS?   Ours just make us do their bidding.  :)


We left before the fire ring started.


Everyone was on the pier enjoying the beautiful cool evening and waiting for the sunset, which turned out to be a bit of a bust.






The usual boats are parading back and forth in front of the sun.





The street performers are drawing crowds.

This guy was on a tall unicycle while juggling fire.





At the time I took these pictures, little did we know that there was a horrible scene taking place right behind him.

Mallory Square is where the cruise ships dock when they are in port.   It’s at least 6-10 feet down to the water depending on the tide.

As we walked along, we heart some commotion and when we looked over the edge, we noticed a woman in the water, fully dressed.

The current was ripping due to the full moon.  I quickly looked around for a throw rescue ring.  There were none that I could see.  She was hanging onto a ladder, but I was concerned she would tire and get swept away. She yelled that she could not swim in the strong current. By the time I glanced down again, she was holding onto someone who was trying to pull her up.  No one had jumped in to help her.

I remember thinking, he was kind of scrawny and no way would he pull her up.


Fortunately, he did.  It turned out the guy was her boyfriend.  She told me he looked her in the eye and told her to hang on.  He then proceeded to pull her right up to safety.  Thank goodness.  At this point, we thought she must have just fallen in. She had on a skirt, not really the type of attire you would choose for an evening swim.

We found out later that she had jumped into the swift moving current to try to rescue another man.

A few minutes later she was wandering around by herself  in a daze and on the verge of tears. I went over to try to comfort her.  By this time, we knew the she had gone in to save someone else and he had likely died.   She kept saying, “no one would help him.”   Bless her.  She risked her life to try to save someone else.  She told me she saw him have a heart attack.  I don’t know if that was what happened for sure, but I imagine it’s possible because he was a heavy set man and probably over exerted trying to swim or get up the ladder.

We just happened to be near several people who witnessed the accident.  We were told two men decided to take a swim.  Al saw the bearded guy swimming in the water.  His friend was very heavy set and he is the one that needed to be rescued.  We don’t think he survived, but we don’t know for sure.

Somehow, someone got him out of the water and they performed CPR on him until the paramedics arrived and they took over CPR.

We witnessed a little of the frantic and rough CPR, all the while hearing his wife screaming and crying.  It was a sad situation and many of us were in tears.  My nurse friend has told me how bad CPR is and that it’s not something you want to have done.  We discussed this in regard to our elderly parents.

We saw the ambulance rush away, but we have little hope that he survived.


Hopefully, since CPR started right away he can be revived, but we wondered how long it took to get him out of the water.

We imagine alcohol was involved and some  macho male behavior.

This sign is painted all along the waterfront.




Many people were walking around unaware of what happened.  The party continued, but it was over for us. 


  1. That would really be traumatic to witness. We saw a car accident happen where the woman deliberately drove off the road cause they were having a fight. She died but he lived. Jim tried to help but it wasn't to be. He used to be on the rescue squad and learned how to handle the emotions that come from such a time. Your cats have you trained and our girls have us trained. We live for their command.

  2. Oh Karen how awful. What a brave young woman. I'm so glad she was able to get out of the water. Gamble Rogers died trying to rescue someone at the park that now bears his name. So sad!

  3. That brings back some very sad memories. I have to applaud the woman, she at least tried to help. I've seen too many times where people just stood around and did nothing, with tragic consequences.

  4. When you see something like that, it stays with you. I saw a young girl drive her convertible sports car into a light pole - not on purpose, just driving too fast, and she was a new driver (according to the newspaper story). She flew right out of the car and landed like a rag doll. (No seat belt.) Many of us stopped and dialed 911 while others rushed over to try to help. When the paramedics came, they ripped off her outer clothes and tried to revive her, right there on the street. I'll never forget that scene and the senseless loss of life. :(

  5. Tragic- helps us remember that having an rv part on back order is not really the end of the world.

  6. Oh, gosh...that is so upsetting and so awful to witness things like that. I was a witness to a drowning of a little boy in a neighborhood lagoon when I had just had a baby many years ago. I used to be a life guard. I got to the spot where he went down too late. I can still remember that day vividly. I was lucky I got myself back out of the water, I was so exhausted from trying to find him. Bless that woman for trying to help....I didn't know CPR was that rough. Guess the chest compressions can break a rib?

  7. Eduardo Ortega... passed away before he got to the hospital. Great Father of 3 girls... Great Husband... and a great friend to me. He was a great human overall that just made a playful mistake. Love you Eddie! R.I.P.! May the lord watch over your soul and family.

    1. Manuel, I am so sorry your friend didn't make it. We were praying he would be okay but it didn't seem very likely at the time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. R.I.P.

  8. It sounds very sad and could likely have been prevented if just a little better judgement had been used by those who voluntarily entered the water in the first place.


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