By Kevin Deutsch
A Tamarac man diving a popular shipwreck to celebrate his birthday died in the Keys last week, authorities and his widow said.
Barry Alan Beckett, 50, a father of five, was diving the Vandenberg wreck with Southpoint Divers on June 15 aboard the commercial dive boat Phoenix, about 7 miles off the coast of Key West, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
He returned to the boat after a dive and stopped breathing, deputies said. The boat crew began CPR, and Beckett was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island. Doctors there pronounced him dead.
Foul play is not believed to be a factor, deputies said. Autopsy results are pending.
According to his funeral home obituary, Beckett worked for the Seminole Tribe of Florida beginning in November 2008, spending the past eight years at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. He also served six years in the U.S. Army.
Beckett married his wife Maite on December 12, 2020. The couple spent nine years together, according to the obituary.
“Happy Birthday in heaven to the love of my life!” Maite Beckett wrote in a June 17 Facebook post on what would have been her husband’s 51st birthday.
“I’m convinced that he was the best husband any woman can ever have, the best dad to my kids and his… My heart and soul are completely broken. I don’t know how to live without him, but I want everybody to know he loved me to the last second of his life, and he made me happy.”
She said Beckett told her the night before his last dive that “no matter where we were as long as we are together…we will be together one day again.”
“He wanted to do this awesome dive, and he wanted to be just us in Key West” for his birthday, she wrote.
The Vandenberg wreck is a World War II Navy ship turned artificial reef in nearly 150 feet of water within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Multiple divers have died exploring the wreck.
In addition to diving, Beckett loved riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and spending time with his three dogs, Thor, Fiona, and Colt, according to his obituary.
Beckett is survived by his mother, Sandra, and 5 children; Jarett, Cody, Austin, Paola, and Sebastian. He is also survived by his older sisters Betsy and Polly.
His funeral was slated to be held Father’s Day at Fred Hunter’s funeral home in Hollywood, with burial at New Albany National Cemetery in Beckett’s native Indiana.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.