Lawsuit Filed in Keys Death of Famed ‘Sharkwater’ Filmmaker Rob Stewart

Rob Stewart, a 37-year-old Canadian filmmaker, died January 31 while on a diving trip near Islamorada in the Florida Keys.  He hoped to contribute in saving the world’s oceans and to raise public awareness about the issue.  Rob Stewart was famous for his award winning documentary, “Sharkwater, and was in amazing shape as a result of his work and passion.  Rob learned how to lower his heart rate while diving so that he would be able to “swim with sharks without alarming them.”  Stewart’s team lost him after diving one day and were unable to find the accomplished diver.  The Key Largo Fire Department found his body three days later roughly 300 feet from where he went missing.

Sandra Stewart, Rob’s mother, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing several companies and people involved in the accident with negligence.  The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.  Add Helium, the company in charge of the dive, is among the defendants.  Peter Sotis, the owner of the company, and his wife, Claudia, are also mentioned in the lawsuit. 

Brian Stewart, in a press conference said, “There is no way anyone should ever die the way Rob did…never in my wildest dreams was I worried about him having a dive accident.”

Rob Stewart was swimming in the Keys to talk about the importance of shark conservation.  He was using a rebreather, which recirculates the air a diver breathes underwater.  After making two dives onto the Queen of Nassau wreck (pictured above), Stewart and Sotis went down for a third time to grab a grappling hook that anchored a marking buoy.  After they grabbed the hook, Stewart and Sotis resurfaced and got aboard the dive boat, according to the lawsuit, Sotis then “immediately collapsed.”  While everyone attended Peter Sotis, Rob “disappeared, drowned, and was found deceased three days later.”

The attorney representing Rob’s mother, Michael Haggard, explained that Peter and Claudia expedited the training on the rebreather “and were negligent in supervising the dive.”  The last dive they completed was not on their itinerary and only happened so that they could salvage the $15 grappling hook.  The suit is also filed against the Horizon Dive Adventures, the company that supplied the boat.  The United States Coast Guard is still investigating the incident.


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