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Towboat captain dies in capsize

A commercial towboat captain from Tavernier, Fla., died late last Thursday when his 23-foot vessel capsized while responding to a grounded recreational boat.

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Lee McCune, 35, of Poseidon Marine Towing - an affiliate of TowBoatU.S. - was reportedly trapped beneath the overturned superstructure of his boat. His wife, Diane McCune, who served as his regular crew, was thrown free as the boat overturned. She suffered minor injuries.

The conditions were reportedly an abnormal low "spring tide" and the boat, which McCune had captained for more than a decade, was passing through unmarked shoals in an area McCune reportedly knew well.

Initial press reports indicated the boat hit a shallow embankment at around 10 p.m., but a conflicting report from the survivor indicated McCune was trying to avoid one embankment, turned to port and the shallow draft boat caught air, or possibly a wave, under the hull and barrel rolled.

The Coast Guard is investigating the accident.

"Lee is the son of the towing company's owner, Capt. Barrie McCune," read a statement by BoatU.S. "The family has a long history of helping Keys boaters get safely on their way and, along with everyone at BoatU.S., we all mourn his passing."

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