Rob Stewart, 37, of Toronto, Canada, died in January off Islamorada, Fla., while filming a follow-up to his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, which examined the impact of shark hunting on the ocean’s ecosystem.
According to the lawsuit, Stewart and dive organizer Peter Sotis both surfaced at the same time with apparent breathing difficulties, but Stewart didn’t make it back on board the dive boat. While others were treating Sotis, they allowed Stewart to slip away.
Stewart’s death “was a preventable tragedy that was going to happen to someone,” his family’s attorney, Michael Haggard said in an email.
Unspecified damages are being sought in the negligence lawsuit filed in Broward County, Fla., Circuit Court. It names as defendants Horizon Dive Adventures of Key Largo, Fla., Add Helium LLC of Fort Lauderdale, Fla, and dive organizers Peter and Claudia Sotis, who operate Add Helium.
An attorney for Sotis did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
A grappling hook had been placed on the wreck that was attached to a surface buoy to mark the location of the dive. Stewart and Peter Sotis encountered difficulties when they went down a third time to remove the grappling hook.