Another visitor dies during East End dive

| 31/03/2015 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service

Lovers’ Wall, East End, Grand Cayman

(CNS): A 62-year-old American visitor to the Cayman Islands has died during a dive trip off Lover’s Wall in East End, the eighth victim lost to the sea this year. The police said Tuesday that uniformed officers received a call about the missing diver at around noon. The man, who had arrived in Cayman on Saturday, was with a group of divers but was nowhere to be seen when they all surfaced. As a result they requested assistance via their boat’s VHF radio and another dive boat responded to help with the search.

At 12:25pm the man was found and taken to the dock at Ocean Frontiers, East End. He was met by paramedics and taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town, where he was pronounced dead. The visitor was from North Port, Alabama, and police said officers from the RCIPS Joint Marine Unit are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.

The man is the eighth person already this year to have been killed in local waters, including 47-year-old Norman Lee, an American comic artist who went missing while snorkeling off the coast of the Reef Resort, also in East End, at the beginning of March and whose body has never been recovered.

All of the water-related deaths this year were tourist except for the first person to be killed at sea in 2015, who was a Cuban migrant. Fifty-one year old Manuel Marino-Rodriguez drowned on 3 January when the vessel he was in capsized in rough waters off the coast of South Sound.

An 88-year-old male cruise ship visitor from the Ukraine died on Seven Mile Beach on 12 January, and just two days later a 63-year-old man visiting from America died while snorkeling in East End. On 26 January a 71-year-old snorkeller also drowned off the east coast near to Morritt’s. In February a 60-year-old man from Florida died following a dive on Little Cayman, and then this month a 70-year-old diver from Texas died following a dive off Seven Mile Beach on 19 March.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How many ambulances are there on the island? Where are they stationed? Is there a station closer to East End that has an ambulance and if not, should that not be looked into immediately for budget? 45 minutes from GT to the East End for an ambulance is too long in an emergency and then if transport is needed….wow.
    Do dive boats have defibulators or they can’t because of the water? Just trying to think of some life saving options.

    • anon says:

      There are three ambulances normally in operation on Grand Cayman. One is stationed at the West Bay Health Centre. One is stationed at George Town Hospital. And the third is stationed at the North Side Health Centre.

      Adding another ambulance would require not just the cost of purchasing a fully equipped ambulance (US$250-350K is a common estimate) but you also have the ongoing operating costs, primarily staffing costs for 24/7/365 coverage. Figure about 8 to 10 employees per ambulance to allow for days off, training, vacations, sick days, etc…

      If the ambulance in one district is in use and another call comes in for the same service area then the next closest ambulance is sent.

      Many calls require only one ambulance. Some calls may require two ambulances (multiple patients, certain traumas, cardiac arrest).

      Some dive boats may have Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). AED use is simple, but no guarantee. An AED will NOT deliver a shock to a patient with no cardiac activity at all (flatlined). Using an AED in a marine environment would require drying the patient’s chest and moving the patient off a conductive surface such as a metal boat deck.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yet another death of a diver in Cayman. The death rates are as appalling. If tourists knew how many 60+ divers die every year in Cayman they would be shocked. But diving is a local run industry that profits local families so the government does not step in to protect tourists and risk the profits of voters. There is no regulation of exclusion clauses, so these operators can check out of any liability for negligence, in turn increasing the moral hazard risks for consumers and thus increasing the carnage in the seas off the islands. Any government that cared would ban exclusion of liability for negligence and mandate insurance cover for negligence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where in the world did you get the number 60+ per year?

    • Anonymous says:

      So tell me… what are the causes of death in each of these cases? How are those causes related to Scuba diving? Are any of those causes traceable directly to some sort of liability? Are you actually suggesting that dive operations in the Cayman Islands are causing people to die through their negligent actions? What evidence do you have to support such an allegation?

    • Anonymous says:

      I have done approximately 100 dives in Cayman waters, and could not disagree more with your comments about dive operators. Every operator that I have dived with here has acted with the utmost professionalism and concern for the safety of its divers (and much more so than I have experienced in other parts of the world).

      Unfortunately, people do not always acknowledge the fact that scuba diving is an extreme sport, which puts the body under stresses that it is not normally used to, and like all extreme sports, carries a risk of injury or worse. The demographic of divers who sadly pass away in our waters tends towards those who perhaps have underlying medical issues and may therefore be more at risk. Every dive operator requires completion of a medical questionnaire, but you are ultimately responsible for your own fitness to dive. This is for the benefit of yourself, and any others who might be diving with you. Tragic accidents happen, but to lay these deaths at the door of the diver operators concerned is simply an unnecessary result of the blame culture in which we live these days.

      My deepest condolences go out to this gentleman’s family, as they do to anyone who loses a loved on as the result of a tragic accident.

  3. John Augsbury says:

    I was on the fly bridge of the Ocean Frontiers dive boat Nauticat on the morning in question of March 31 when on the return to the dock the captain of the OF boat received a call of a missing diver from another dive company.
    The Ocean Frontiers captain immediately slowed and began a search for the missing diver down current from his last known location.
    After about 10 minutes of searching a diver matching the description was located on the surface. The captain of Nauticat positioned the boat near the diver and sent a crew member into the water in an attempt to assist the diver.
    The crew member inflated the divers BC and held on to the diver as the Captain brought the stern around toward them for a stern recovery. A number of divers standing on the dive platform pulled the diver onto the OF dive boat. The divers mask and scuba gear was removed and his vital signs were checked.
    The captain contacted Ocean Frontiers and requested an ambulance for the deceased diver and the other dive company to alert them of the diver recovery. After collecting a crew member from the other dive company for diver identification the body was transported to the Ocean Frontiers dock for ambulance pick up of the deceased diver..
    The Ocean Frontiers Captain of Nauticat and crew acted with a high degree of professionalism and treated the diver with compassion and respect through out the recovery. The dock side OF staff that met the dive boat at the OF dock were equally supportive and responsive to the needs of those divers present.
    Upon the return to the Ocean Frontiers dock there was no ambulance on scene and I saw a police man in the parking lot and told him the body was still on the dive boat when I departed.

  4. Mindy says:

    Three people who were snorkeling in various places in the Florida Keys Monday. March 24,2015 die.

  5. Anonymous says:

    As a daughter of a man who went missing during a dive in Grand Cayman (North Eagle Ray Pass) in September of 2009, I continue to be mortified by the number of people who not only die during a dive, but are never found. Because the authorities did not properly list my brother and I as next of kin following my father’s disappearance, we were never given any formal closure as to whether he was ever formally pronounced dead. Our stepmother, with whom we do not have communication, has also not informed us as to the “ongoing investigation” or whether anything was ever found. All we want is closure. If anyone has any suggestions as to how my brother and I can find out any official information surrounding my father’s disappearance/death due to his scuba diving accident, please let me know.

    • Michel says:

      Please someone help this Lady for her and the families closure. I am certain that it can be looked at again and proper information passed on. Gd Bless, Miche

    • Anonymous says:

      This is quite a difficult post to respond to as it’s obviously incredibly sensitive for you.

      I was one of the literally hundreds of volunteers who took part in the search for your father. The local dive community responded to the emergency call from the dive boat he was on within minutes of him going missing. The search involved divers, snorkelers, deep/tech divers and the local helicopter (who was a private resident then, before Cayman had a police helicopter) over a number of days after the incident. Missing divers are actually very rare in Cayman (FACT) and in this case, the local community and the authorities responded swiftly, professionally and passionately.

      Nothing was found. The truth will remain at sea. Because there was no body, the case has to remain open for 7 years. This is law, not due to the authorities not doing their job properly. They cannot (I believe) issue a death certificate before the 7 years are over.

      The incident was investigated by the local police and the dive agency PADI. No charges have been brought because (I believe) there was absolutely no evidence of negligence or any wrong doing… the investigation included interviews with divers who were at the scene of the incident too.

      It is law here that the spouse is next of kin – the authorities cannot be blamed for a lack of communication between you and your step-mother.

      In terms of the death rate of divers in Cayman, this is intrinsically linked to a) the pure volume of divers we have here and b) the ageing population of both divers and tourists in Cayman. The stats are available to verify this. Whilst this sounds incredibly matter of fact, especially considering your father was lost here, it is accurate. Divers over 50 are a risk, especially divers with potential heart conditions. What I would say, is that every death is heartfelt by those involved and the close-knit dive community here. Your father has not been forgotten by the Cayman Islands and his passing was felt by many, many people.

    • Anonymous says:

      @11:09 am – To the lady that lost her father during a dive in Grand Cayman, I’m very sorry for your loss and that you have been unable to have closure in this matter.

      Your birth certificate will prove that you are his daughter, and as immediate family the RCIP should release any information regarding his disappearance to you.

      I wish you all the best.

    • Rose Titus says:

      To my stepdaughter,

      You know as much as anyone about your father’s disappearance. You were there for the investigations in the Caymans. There has been no findings to date. To my knowledge, there is no ongoing investigation. As his wife, I am next of kin. You have not reached out to me to ask of any discoveries that I know of, nor do you choose to communicate, so your aforementioned statement is confusing. I do not know what happened, nor do I believe anyone does other than our Maker. I am as saddened and puzzled more than anyone as I have lived without him daily for nearly 7 years. My heart breaks every single day.

      There was so much support in so many ways and by so many dive companies, agencies and the People of Grand Cayman. I truly appreciate ALL the support from Grand Cayman.

      The Wife of the Missing Diver from 9-21-09

  6. Anonymous says:

    The response times and professionalism of the Ambulance and Police are abysmal here. There are so many problems and they are continually swept under the rug. There are certain members of the Ambulance service who have been grandfathered in. Their qualifications are from many years ago and they have done nothing to try and stay updated as it falls to the individual to make sure they are up to date. Many are just too lazy to do it.This poor treatment of this tourist just highlights what has been happening for years, it is just now brought to light because this is a tourist.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry to say this my good people…is any one getting paid? 8 on a row….please explain/thoroughly investigate the friends/relatives that came with the deceased.i don’t know life insurance, past disputes and don’t leave the local diving company alone,investigate them too please.something is not right here.please help, help!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      What are you talking about? All diving related deaths are thoroughly and properly investigated. It isn’t hard to determine the cause of death and in the vast majority of cases the cause comes down to two things: human error on the part of the diver or heart attack. There is no huge conspiracy or ring of criminal activity causing these accidents. The sheer volume of dives being conducted means that statistically there are bound to be some deaths, just like there are driving deaths, or deaths from natural causes. People do die, sad though it is.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Your second paragraph is unreal………Wow! Whatever you do folks – just don’t die by diving in Cayman.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, no doubts that Mr. Broadbelt is stating facts, the sole fact that CNS answered implies so. that being said, does the police have a “copy and paste” or a “template” on their computers handy when they are releasing a press note? or we are in the presence of an intentional lie. Perhaps Mr. Pollack, which seems to be a fearless advocate for justice, could find if this is regular procedure or just a violation of procedures/law. one thing i can say, shame on the paramedics and shame on the RCIPS, every single one of you should be apologizing now to that family and the rest of the public on behalf of those, hopefully soon to be sanction, fellow employees. remember, you will die as well, you wouldnt want your corpse, or your family to be treated like MEAT.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The comments put forth by Steve Broadbelt are shocking to say the least and an investigation needs to be launching into this irresponsible behavior. The police should have insisted the ambulance remove the body and the patent disrespect for the deceased leaves me speechless.

  11. For the record, as a representative for Ocean Frontiers- An Ocean Frontiers dive boat responded to a call for assistance via VHF radio from another dive company’s vessel. The missing diver was found not breathing and unresponsive on the surface. The diver was pulled on to the boat and returned to the closest dock where Emergency Services could reach – at Ocean Frontiers dive shop in East End.

    The ambulance took over 1 hour to arrive on the scene and even after 911 was called, they called back to ask if we were sure and did we really need an ambulance! To make matters worse, after the paramedics had assessed the body, they confirmed he was dead, got back in the ambulance and left, without the body.

    What happened next was even more shocking – one police car left the scene, followed by the other. The poor man’s body was just left on the back of a dive boat in the hot sun, with not authorities present. What happened to the chain of custody over a dead body? Shouldn’t the cause of death be established before leaving the the body behind or handing over to a funeral home? In the end, our dive staff couldn’t wait any longer and moved the body in to the shade. About 30 mins later a funeral home vehicle arrived and took the deceased.

    To say the least, we were shocked and deeply disappointed with how the emergency services handled this accident. We don’t know the details behind the cause of death, but know that nobody deserves the lack of respect and dignity that we witnessed today.

    To hear that the emergency services rushed to the scene and took the person to hospital is a lie. I don’t know where CNS got this report from- but it is far from factual.

    CNS: Our information came from the RCIPS

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow is all I can say. And just when you think the RCIPS and Health Services could not get any worse.
      Even if you put aside the lack of compassion and disrespect for the deceased and his loved ones, the behavior is unprofessional, pure and simple. What high level crime or major medical emergency caused the authorities to leave the scene in such a manner? This is the problem with the civil service. Their jobs are an inconvenience to them, and if they do their job, they act like they are doing you a favor!
      I hope your comment goes beyond the blog section of CNS, becoming a story itself, and the authorities are forced to answer for this inexcusable behavior. They should be ashamed if themselves!

    • Mr Broadbelt, this man was my father and after hearing this I’m pretty angry, confused, and saddened by what has happened. I’m not sure what to say other than I hope that you can get into contact with me about this.

      CNS: I have sent you an email. Please let me know if you did not receive it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr Crawford, My sincere condolences at the loss of your father. You feelings are perfectly understandable.

    • Sam says:

      Don’t they have a protocol to follow? A written protocol of actions that must be performed in such cases. Emergency Service protocol? 911 service protocol? RICPS protocol?

      • Anonymous says:

        You may be sure there is a protocol in place because that is what Cayman does very well. Implementing it or them is another thing.

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