Sun-Sentinel—August 17, 1985
Scuba Divers Inc., a Margate diving school, has settled a drowning lawsuit out of court for $1.8 million, according to the plaintiff's attorney.
Walter Campbell, a veteran personal-injury attorney, said Friday that the scuba business agreed to pay that amount to the husband of Anna McGary, a 21-year-old Boca Raton woman who drowned during a scuba class less than a year ago. A medical examiner later found that she was pregnant. McGary was on her first dive in open waters on Oct. 13, 1984, at Crystal Lake, an unincorporated area near Pompano Beach, when she failed to surface after disappearing into a tangle of vegitation.
Two days later, searchers found her body 20 feet below the surface of the lake, which had claimed six other lives in the previous four years.
At the time of her death, some divers criticized McGary's instructors for taking the class to Crystal Lake.
Steve Montgomery, 37, the searcher who found McGary's body, said the lake's thick vegetation had hampered even the experienced divers conducting the search.
"To me, that's one of the worst places you could pick to have a checkout dive," Montgomery told a reporter at the time. "I'd rather dive 250 feet in the ocean than dive in this mess."
However, Charles Brenneka, one of the two instructors named in the lawsuit, said he had considered the lake to be far less hazardous than the ocean, which had poor visibility and bad currents the day of the fatal dive.
The wrongful-death suit, filed on behalf of McGary's husband, Scott McGary, said carelessness on the part of diving instructors Brenneka and Dennis Wells caused McGary's death.
Crystal Lake was named for the nearby residential development that stretches from the railroad tracks west to Powerline Road, north of Sample Road.