A British couple charged in the death of a tourist on their Key Largo-based charter boat at Molasses Reef and have been on the run from authorities for 10 years was arrested in Spain last week, multiple outlets reported.
Christopher Jones, 56, and Alison Gracey, 53, were owners of the commercial dive charter boat “Get Wet,” which capsized and sank on Dec. 18, 2011, killing 36-year-old Aimee Rhoads, who was visiting the Keys from Washington state. The 24.5-foot vessel sank because of functional issues that had allegedly been ignored by the couple. Rhoads was trapped in the hull of the boat for a time after it began taking on water while out for a dive trip at the reef. Another passenger was also trapped in the boat as it sank, but he was airlifted to a Miami hospital and survived after being rescued by the boat’s captain.
Jones and Gracey were charged with involuntary manslaughter and making false official statements. The two have evaded authorities from both the United States Coast Guard and Interpol after being briefly detained in 2015. They were arrested days after being featured on an episode of the television show “America’s Most Wanted,” which aired recently.
The couple lived in Key Largo at the time of Rhoads’ death and left the country shortly after, according to reports from the time. A federal grand jury returned a sealed indictment on Oct. 18, 2012. Interpol was able to track the couple and arrest them once before, in 2015 on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. A report from the time said they had been living and working on the Dutch island since the beginning of that year. But the couple was released on bail by a Dutch judge. The couple had their passports revoked and officials hoped they would be extradited to the United States.
In 2016, a French woman sent emails to The Key West Citizen saying that two people with names matching those of the fugitives had contacted her asking about a home rental in southern France. Having found out about their legal status, she wanted to know if they were still wanted by Interpol. The emails were forwarded to U.S. Coast Guard investigators, who believed the couple was still working through the Dutch legal system in St. Maarten.
Previous reports said that if convicted, Jones faced up to 10 years in prison, while Gracey faced eight. Both Interpol and the Coast Guard were contacted for information regarding the couple’s status, but neither responded at press time.