Body of missing snorkeler found after search

| 30/06/2016 | 35 Comments
Cayman News Service

Michael Gourzong

(CNS): A 24-year-old local man has drowned off the coast of Spotts beach during a snorkelling trip with friends on Wednesday evening, 29 June. A search and rescue operation was launched yesterday at around 6pm after the 911 Communications Centre received a report that he was in the water in distress. Police have not yet identified the victim, but according to social media, it is Michael Gourzong from Newlands. Gourzong had been swimming near the reef but when his companions returned to shore as the waves and current grew stronger, he was still in the water.

A Port Authority boat crewed by both the authority and police was on the scene within fifteen minutes, police said in a release Thursday. Marine officers also responded, and the police helicopter and crew, including the only available pilot, who was not on duty at the time, arrived at around 7pm.

“An extensive grid-pattern search following the current and drift pattern and up to a mile offshore, encompassing the entire coast and reef line west of Spotts Beach, was conducted jointly by both the Port Authority vessel and the police helicopter,” a spokesperson for the RCIPS stated, noting that the victim had not been seen.

The police marine vessel Niven D continued searching the area throughout the night and at daylight this morning a wider search resumed with the police helicopter, rescue divers and a police-manned Waverunner.

The body of the missing man was found just before 9:30am near a private dock, close to shore, just south of Spotts Beach by the police officer riding the Waverunner.

“The RCIPS expresses its profound condolences to the family of the victim, who are being provided with support from a RCIPS Family Liaison officer,” the police added.

As the news came in, tributes were pouring in on the young man’s Facebook page.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , ,

Category: Local News

Comments (35)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. dalton e watler lyons says:

    Good youth. Sad about it God knows why

  2. diver says:

    I have dive and snorkelling few times at sport dock and don’t get in water at high tides that where the strongest current is.

  3. Unison says:

    Not to mention the current smacking you into sharp rocks. It would be hard to feel pain and not panic. That’s why I think they should ban people from that area all together. It is plainly an open ocean- no reef. :/


  5. marius says:

    Dear Mrs. Gourzong,

    I am sorry to have read about Michael’s unexpected passing. My heartfelt condolences for your and your family’s loss. Michael was a great student, an excellent football player and an outstanding person. He will be missed.

    Mr. V.

  6. Unison says:

    Look at how many times in our history where people have died from the Spotts currents! The currents are underwater rivers that have a force that no man can fight against it! I think we need to have alot warning signs placed out there!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Cayman Islands Government need to post signs there and put buoys in the water marking areas, where current is most deadly and areas that is safe for swimming.

      Tourist and local need to see visible warnings, it will be more effective. More than one drowning has happened in the sports area every effort need to be made to ensure more does not happen. Signs should have been posted years ago.

      Deepest condolences to the Mrs.Gourzong and family, also to coach Elbert and the BT football team. Michael was a talented footballer and a nice young man.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I spearfish fish at sports a lot behind the reef, and let me explain the currents as many don’t understand why the currents are so strong.

    To the east of sports beach there is a natural channel (no reef, a lot don’t know about this) and everyone knows there is the channel in front of spotts dock. The ocean current comes inward at the natural channel, travels alongside the reef and exit thru the spotts dock channel, therefore creating strong outward water currents. With the currents going outward to the ocean with waves coming in, that’s why the water it always turburlant.

    As experience thought me when swimming around spotts dock and other strong water current areas, when you are caught in the current stream you need to go with it and not fight. The current stream only can be strong as for so long, after you feel the current get weaker you need to swim in on a slanted/ dianglonal direction till you reach safety. This technique is effective but one will have to stay calm And don’t panic which I know is difficult during life treating situation.

    I post this comment as info how the waters works around that area for anyone that don’t know the spotts area.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for your comment, very useful information

    • I would just like to add my thoughts to the above comment.Fighting a current is the worst thing a swimmer/snorkeler can do and to go with the flow is the best way to handle this situation.The other thing I would like to add is the fact that hardly anyone uses a safety vest for floatation and I would strongly suggest that these be used if one is not sure about water conditions and are not fully comfortable in the open water areas. I closing may I add my sincere condolences to Mikes family and may they stay strong through this difficult time.R.I.P.Mike

    • Anon. says:

      In addition, when waves break over the reef they bring water into the Spotts sound which cannot flow back out against the constant wave action of the waves coming over the reef which then results in the water level in the sound being higher than sea level. Gravity pulls it back out to sea in the strong current flows we see through the channels. More signage, the use of floatation devices and proper care are needed in that area. Sincere condolences to all family and friends on this very sad and tragic accident

  8. ExPat abroad says:

    Sad. Although whe we lived in Savannah, I can clearly remember warning signs being there.

    • Anonymous says:

      There were warning signs, but they took them down to do the upgrading of the dock. The signs were also very faded.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My heart goes out to the Gourzong family..May God grant you special favor in your time of bereavement.. Seeing He has taken you to the assured He will take you through…

  10. Anonymous says:

    You know we have some sick people in this world that when you have things like this happening you get dislike post. SICK

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dearest “Double O”: I and your many, many friends (including two overseas at present) and colleagues plus hundreds of former students and others touched by Michael’s life, are deeply saddened by his passing and we express our condolences to you and your husband in this time of overwhelming, unimaginable grief.

    The Prin.

  12. Mike says:

    Didn’t know him but looks a fine young man, my dad drowned at 24, brought it home again, dangerous ocean takes another,

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is another sad day for Cayman as we have lost another great young man to an untimely passing. My prayers and well wishes go out to the family at this time.

    I therefore make my plea also for the Government to erect signage on ALL beaches throughout the CI whereby strong currents is a problem and could be hazardous to potential beach goers.

    The Spotts Beach area is most certainly in need of such a signage like yesterday knowing the fact that when cruise ships dock at the Spotts Dock many tourists flock to the Spotts Beach rather than going into town or the SMB area.

    I trust that Michael’s death will not be in vain so everyone I plea to you to help pressure the government to put up the necessary signage as to prevent any other deaths in the future.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My prayers go out to Michael’s family. I have never met the gentleman but I know his mother very well when she was the deputy principal at the Lighthouse School – always smiling, always thoughtful, always there. My heart goes out to you, Ms. Olga and the rest of your family.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is a very dangerous area to swim/snorkel. I used to go spearfishing there years ago and there is a very powerful current running most of the time going straight out to sea from the area round the end of the dock. If there are no warning signs , there really should be.

  16. Anonymous says:

    RIP MikeyG. Forever In Our Hearts. Missing you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Rest in Peace.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is such a tragedy. Our hearts go out to his dear mother, father and family.
    I sincerely hope and pray that if they are not already in full view, that the relevant government authority will post warnings of “strong currents” in the area of Spotts Dock as well as any other areas which are prone to these accidents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad for the lost of such a young life…But I must say EVERYBODY KNOWS THE DANGERS AT SPOTT’S DOCK SIGN OR NO SIGN..That is the HOME of BAD CURRENTS So please don’t start the blame game already…

      • Anonymous says:

        Um, actually they don’t. I am driftwood who has been here living in that area for 10 years – and I didn’t know – but I do now. Warning signs would be a very good idea.

        • Anonymous says:

          Warning signs are there.

          • C says:

            Myself and 3 other visiting friends went to swim there to catch a glimpse of turtles on Wednesday as they say this is where to do that. Instead, I got to witness this young man get swept out to sea and the search for him beginning. It happened in the short 10 min I was in the water and I did not see any signs….it was the strongest current I have felt in my life. I consider myself a very good swimmer, having been on swim teams and I was wearing flippers, but it was too much. There absolutely should be signs!!!! And if they are there, they are not prominent enough!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Been snorkeling there several times and didn’t know that and never felt in danger. Although it can be a bit rough sometimes just like anywhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      This sucks but sign will do nothing if you see bad current dont go in, just think a bit.

      • Unison says:

        You can’t see current! :/

        • Genesis says:

          You CAN see current by looking at the top of the water and watching the patterns in which the water flows. Spotts area has a lot of current.

          Another thing is locals know better than to swim there. Shame Michael took a chance that day; that’s what he did…..took a chance.

          We all know not to swim, snorkel, dive etc. there. We were taught that growing up. RIP Michael, they say the good die young.

  19. Anonymous says:

    RIP MikeG. You will be missed. Love you’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.