February 16, 2007
A mysterious accident has claimed the life of a Charlottesville cave diver.
Cave diving is a dangerous and extreme sport, but those who knew Ron Simmons say he was good at it and died doing what he loved.
“When I first heard it I thought it was a joke because I can't believe he was a great guy, [a] good diver,” said friend and fellow diver Lenny Monopoli.
In fact, 53-year-old Ron Simmons was one of the greatest cave divers around. So when news hit, other divers couldn't understand how he could have died enjoying the sport.
“Very brave, very safety conscious, and Ron always kept his gear up to date,” said Monopoli.
Yet investigators in Lafayette County Florida believe Ron had complications with his equipment, that on his final dive he was no deeper than 28 feet below the water's surface when he tragically drowned.
Ron's body was recovered in the Suwannee River Valley caves in North Central Florida Thursday. The sheriff's department is investigating the death, but believes it was an accident.
“We lost one hell of a man, a real great explorer. He goes to places no one can get to his size and slip through a crack and finds virgin passage in a heart beat. The guy was great, a great diver,” said Monolpoli.
Ron reportedly dove inside that same cave as many as 40 times before his fated dive. Investigators are waiting on autopsy results to confirm the cause of his death.