Gary Susman
September 02, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

While Usher was throwing a lavish, star-studded pre-MTV Video Music Awards party aboard a 146-foot yacht in Miami on Friday night, one of the boat’s crew members went missing. He turned up dead the next morning about 200 feet away from where the yacht was docked. Craig Rochel, 34, who lived and worked aboard the Grey Mist III, had apparently been scuba diving Friday night when he drowned, the Miami Herald reports.

The rented yacht was docked at Fisher Island, an upscale residential community. Though sources told the New York Post that Rochel was an experienced diver, he’d been warned not to dive in the high-traffic Fisher Island area. ”He has been twice notified by security that he is not allowed to scuba dive at Fisher Island,” community spokeswoman Sissy DeMaria told the Herald. ”It’s a busy marina with boats coming in and out all the time.”

Usher’s 70 guests at the the pre-awards yacht party reportedly included Shaquille O’Neal, Ashlee and Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry, Christina Aguilera, Jimmy Fallon, Naomi Campbell, Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Jon, Owen Wilson, Kanye West, and Johnny Knoxville. They dined on a spread of caviar and crab legs, saw a performance by the acrobatic De La Guarda troupe, and gawked at panthers tethered on diamond leashes. Asked about the drowning by a Post reporter at a VMA afterparty on Sunday, Usher said, ”I’m not responsible.”

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