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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Gainesville cave diver dies in Tampa spring

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction. It was incorrectly stated that a rescue team from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office found Kay after he became stuck. In fact, the rescue team was part of Karst Underwater Research, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.]

A Gainesville man passed away last weekend while cave diving in a north Tampa spring.

Marson A. Kay, 29, of 5417 NW 35th Drive, became wedged in a cavern that was too tight to swim through on Saturday afternoon. He was trying to reach the water’s surface at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, but a rescue team found him dead at the scene.

Kay was part of a six-man team that dived to the cave for Karst Underwater Research, a not-for-profit organization that explores marine environments for researchers. Karst Underwater relies on volunteers, like Kay.

The group descended about 180 feet deep into the water around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. When Kay, a certified diver, swam back toward the surface, he took a different path from that of the rest of his team. After Kay became stuck, he might not have been able to free himself because the spring was flowing too strongly in the opposite direction, a sheriff’s office report speculates.

Other members of the caving team tried to pry Kay loose, but they couldn’t. A rescue team was on the scene within three minutes, according to the sheriff’s office. When they found Kay, he was dead, his mask pushed up to his forehead.

Family members, co-workers and friends stood outside Kay’s house Monday afternoon. They declined to be interviewed, saying they needed a few days to themselves before they would feel comfortable talking.

However, they added that Kay loved to dive. In his driveway sits a new motorboat. He just bought it, one family member said

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