Elderly visitor drowns at Stingray City

| 16/05/2018 | 38 Comments

(CNS): An 83-year-old man who was visiting the Cayman Islands from the United States drowned during a snorkelling trip at Stingray City on Tuesday, police have said. A report was made to emergency services around 2:15 in the afternoon that the man had gone missing during the trip. Shortly afterwards he was found unconscious in the water by a nearby boat and taken onboard. CPR was administered as the vessel returned to shore, where he was immediately taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital, but was later pronounced dead.

He is the sixth person to die in local waters this year.

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Category: Local News

Comments (38)

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  1. West Bay Premier says:

    CNS , what is the reason that the 2 or 3 comments that I posted aren’t published ? Is it possible because of the legal point of view of the ? If so , do you know that I got some of those points of views from the other comment that are published .

    CNS: I don’t think I’ve deleted any of your comments. It’s just taking me a while to get through the comments today. Apologies for that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    End the ability of operators to exclude liability for death or injury caused by negligence. It would save many lives. At the moment, CIG is so keen on propping up profits for local business owners they allow liability exclusions that ramp up moral hazard risks.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    The saying used to be “see Naples and die” now its “snorkel Cayman and die”. Poor chap I hope great time here before he passed.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The following was taken from
    http://www.civilbeat.org
    February 8, 2018

    “Ten drownings in three weeks on Maui have grabbed the attention of Hawaii lawmakers who want the state to step up ocean safety efforts in the isles.

    Eight of the fatal incidents involved visitors, including the most recent death Saturday of an 80-year-old Alaska man who was snorkeling — by far the most common activity in drowning incidents.”

    This is not to say this is good but this type of accident is not confined to Cayman Islands

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure Maui is a valid comparison. Although the island’s size and annual arrival figures are similar (Maui is running around 2.5 million) friends of mine who went there three years ago say the sea conditions are totally different so you have be very careful when and where you go snorkeling. The main problems are that many of the sites are exposed and the island experiences very strong winds that can pick up during the day.

      I understand these are the actual stats – 2 scuba divers, 5 snorkelers, 2 swimmers and 1 who was fishing from a jetty. All male over-50 and it looks like the last one might not be water-related.

      But the big difference is in your quote. ‘Lawmakers who want the state to step up ocean safety efforts in the isles,’ I don’t see that happening here.

    • West Bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 5:30 pm , See it not just confined to the Cayman Islands , but see the actions of the Hawaiian Lawmakers . Do you see Caymanian Lawmakers taking such actions ? NO.

  5. Jessica says:

    I know this man and know that he was not in bad shape. He was a doctor and had recently retired. He had been all over the world. He wasn’t an typical 83 year old man. People judge everyone by their age but it’s not always the case.

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      Do we not think that there’s problems in the watersports that contributes to these tragic deaths of our young and old and inexperienced VISITORS /TOURIST .
      Do we know that if we continue to let the Tourist come to our Islands and die/lose their life , that there won’t be repercussions from it . Do we know what those repercussions would/could be ? Did anyone hear that prevention is the best cure ?

      As someone said in the comment that charter boats are handing out flimsy fins , and masks that doesn’t fit and leaks water in . Is this the type of snorkel equipment that you have to use around the stingrays today ? If so , I see problems there that could contribute to this tragic subject .

      Please don’t think that I am crazy , cause I am not . I just see a problem and is only trying to prevent it from getting bigger and exploding . Because I know that issue will effect my family and you .

    • Anonymous says:

      Condolences to Franks wife and family. We were a apart of the snorkeling excursion and everyone was wearing snorkeling vests-a requirement of the captain before going into the water. My thoughts go out to the captain and the crew. My heart dropped when they did the final head count before heading back and realized someone was missing.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is high time to start the Cayman Islands Lifeguard Corps.

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  7. West Bay Premier says:

    As I have read all the comments on the subject , and I am seeing that many of the people don’t know what it takes to be a good safe and responsible charter boat Captain , but if you read and understand some questions I asked someone to answer, you could learn something about fixing the problem .

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I read this from another post and it got me thinking and this person is right. What would happen if Cayman had a plethora of golf courses? What would we do about the number of related heart attacks that would happen here, especially with the escalated tourism figures. (BTW, did research on this… Most deaths happen on holes 13 and 18.) But the comment rings true…What would we say about anything that would happen in this situation. Our condolences to the family.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the tour operators should require their guests wear a snorkel vest. Wonder if he was wearing one?
    I mean you can have a heart attack or stroke ANYWHERE, right?! So maybe a snorkel vest wouldn’t have helped.
    Dunno, just thinking out loud here.
    RIP poor guy. A real shame to pass away on vacation.

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  10. "Anonymousir" says:

    another old person dead from snorkeling, maybe old people should take more consideration to their age … like 83 … is it norm for old people to die in cayman waters every time they come to visit? come snorkel in cayman where the beautiful ocean will take your breath away, literally!

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      8:27 am , think about what you said in your comment , and answer these questions. Would you have refused to take this Gentleman on your boat trip ? Would you have allowed him to get of the boat by himself like he was found by another boat ? Would you have had a life vest on him ? And would you have been in the water with him ? We have a serious problem and the age of the person is not all of the problems. But we wouldn’t fix this problem by only saying and blaming one cause for the problem .
      We have to fix this problem so that these visitors can return and have more fun and enjoy the Islands, and leave more dollars to feed our families and economy.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Thoughts with the family, R.I.P.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think water related incidents/death are not isolated to Cayman or statistically higher compared to other beach destinations. It clearly stands out more due to our size, population and the attention to the local media. With the number of tourists and cruise ship day visitors, we should provide life guards on our beaches and key snorkel locations in peak times, as part of our public safety. We invite tourists and it’s a key income, you would think everything is done to provide maximum safety.

  12. Anon says:

    Too many of these visitor snorkeling deaths.

    Some interventions, please!

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    • Gary says:

      Like what? How do you tell if someone is lying about their level of fitness? Do you just discriminate against everyone over a certain age? Even younger people have heart attacks. Where does personal responsibility enter into this?
      How does a snorkeler have a heart attack and float away from his wife and the group to end up on the reef and nobody on the boat staff even notice? I was on a boat nearby and nobody knew something was wrong until it was too late.

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      • Anonymous says:

        From firsthand experience, the flimsy rubber boogie-board fins and mass-produced masks that are handed out to our guests are not fit-for-purpose. The masks don’t seal properly and the fins don’t provide sufficient thrust for the chaotic perimeter reef snorkel conditions they are cast off into – commonly without rough-water snorkel experience, buddies or watersports supervision. There is a collective sigh of relief when all re-board safely. In my opinion the gear contributes directly to the over-exertion and panic that underlies most of our tragedies. We can do better. We need plain-clothes undercover audits of the entire Tourism experience. That data needs to be used to improve our product from both a safety and quality perspective. We should also engineer better artificial snorkel spots out of the main current and shore-break of the perimeter reefs.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Excellent response 10:47 am

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          • Anonymous says:

            10:47 It all comes down to money doesn’t it? The Stingray City operators are forced tp use unseaworthy boats, cheap unskilled labour and equipment I wouldn’t trust in a swimming pool because they’re being screwed by the cruise lines. I don’t know what the current figures are but a few years ago one of the boat operators told me he’d stopped dealing with the cruise lines because they wanted to pay him US$18 for snorkel trips they were charging passengers around US$90 for. They were also expecting him to provide return transportation from GT or Spotts and required some insane amount of third-party insurance to cover them if anything went wrong. That’s the real problem.

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      • Anonymous says:

        True, the first I knew something was wrong was when the DOE Officer arrived on the Sandbar on a jet ski. It would seem he was the only first responder as we didn’t see police. He must be aching today because he was getting mashed up making his way at speed to help this poor guy.

      • Anon says:

        8:01 am: I give you 9:55 am on the 16th. As a sample of interventions quoted there:

        “I have operated from various commercial vessels on the North Sound over the past ten years and I’m becoming increasingly worried at the lawlessness of some and the recklessness of others. The authorities need to do more and get a grip on a worsening situation before more people die in avoidable circumstances. Start with boat and permit checks, close the Sandbar in certain conditions, tighten up on crew training and crew numbers, train stingray handlers and stop the clearly unfit or aged from risking their safety and that of others by entering the water in the first place.
        Put safety first in front of the money grabbing mentality.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Here is an intervention for you: Don’t go in the sea, unless you are absolutely capable of self rescue, physically and medically fit .

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      • Anonymous says:

        Can’t fault that logic but this is like drivers who won’t admit they can’t see beyond the end of the hood – you try convoncing them they’re not fit!

      • Anyone at anytime, any age can have a seizure, stroke, or heart attack and be “physically and medically” fit. A seizure is a disrupture in brain electrical activity and can occur to anyone at anytime. If this happens in the ocean, any one can drown.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Of course this is a sad and tragic event for this poor man’s family. However questions need asking, such as why was the Sandbar open in the first place, conditions were very challenging in low tides, strong SE winds and moderate seas. Why was an 83 year old allowed to get off a boat in such difficult conditions, what genius thought that was appropriate. How did a guest go missing from a supervised tour. Who was on over watch on the boat and was there an in water guide supervising guests. Where were the authorities, police, doe etc. And who responded to the call for help?
    Water safety is a sad joke on this island with seemingly no enforcement of basic marine laws or regulations. Did the boat concerned even have a valid permit to operate on the Sandbar and a CIPA inspection certificate to operate a commercial vessel, does it have valid insurance, the vast majority don’t appear to have so why would this one be any different?
    I have operated from various commercial vessels on the North Sound over the past ten years and I’m becoming increasingly worried at the lawlessness of some and the recklessness of others. The authorities need to do more and get a grip on a worsening situation before more people die in avoidable circumstances. Start with boat and permit checks, close the Sandbar in certain conditions, tighten up on crew training and crew numbers, train stingray handlers and stop the clearly unfit or aged from risking their safety and that of others by entering the water in the first place.
    Put safety first in front of the money grabbing mentality.

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  14. West Bay Premier says:

    CNS You report that this Gentleman death is the sixth death for year , and Compass says that the death of a Lady is the sixth . Who is right , how many is it 6 or 7 ?

    CNS: I went through our archives to double-check and found five other water-related deaths (which I’ve linked to now at the end of the article). I don’t believe we’ve missed any but if we have perhaps someone could send us the link.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There was also a local gentleman who died will fishing in North Side back on Easter Monday. I believe some of the outlets are counting that one

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  15. West Bay Premier says:

    My regards to the family and may he RIP .
    Do we see that there’s lots wrong here and not only the age and physical condition of these people /tourist who comes to our Islands and Lose their life .
    The 7th tragic death has happened in the 5th month of 2018 , I don’t ever remember that many for the entire year .

    I think that it is past time that we take a serious look into what is the causes of these tragic deaths to our visitors /tourist who puts money in our economy and food on our tables.
    A Judge said a few months ago after hearing the Coroner’s report , said that there’s need for a discussion about this topic . I would say that too .

    I am a 25 years experienced charter boat Captain , who has taken many people over the ages of these victims and never ever had a accident with my passengers .

    I believe that some of this could be blamed on the responsibility of Captain /Guide for not being qualified and experienced in the field . We need to do more about this topic before the word gets out that Cayman Islands cares more about your money , than they care about your life .
    Please don’t tell me that all the Captains are experienced and qualified today , when they run their boat up on the iron shore .

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    • Anonymous says:

      @West Bay Premier

      As you say it’s worth looking at this incident in the context of the March 2018 inquest on Jose Antonio Puron Lazcano who died at Stingray City last year in similar circumstances.

      During that inquest Anthony Thomas from the RCIPS Marine Unit is quoted as saying, “When it comes to getting in the water to snorkel, there is nothing to say you have to put on a buoyancy device,” He added that boat crew can advise, but they can’t force. Mr Lazcano was also apparently advised not to go in the water because of the rough conditions but ignored this.

      That comment from Mr Thomas is, in very blunt terms, BS. On a boat the skipper’s word is law – it he says you can’t go into the water or need to wear a snorkel vest you do it. ‘My boat, my rules,’ as a friend of mine puts it but his experience is also that too many tourists, particularly cruise shippers, come on his trips acting like they own the boat and can do what they like.

      It’s going to about a year before we get the official verdict on what happened here but I’ve got a very nasty feeling this is going to be history repeating itself and it will happen again, and again, and again if we don’t get a grip on this.

      • West Bay Premier says:

        Anonymous 5:45pm . This why I able to take 100’s of thousands of people on my boats trips and never had an accident or lost one of my passengers. Because when it came to the safety of my passenger , no one didn’t ever have no authority over my word on board my boat . What I said you must do , you did or elese you were taken back to shore and put off the boat .

        • Anonymous says:

          @West Bay Premier

          You got my respect sir! It was the same when I was a scuba intructor. Wish there were more of us with that attitude out there

          • West Bay Premier says:

            Anonymous 1:52 pm , you have my respect too .I think that’s the problem today , there’s not many left like us . But they will learn real fast when government start making laws and regulations for them .

    • Tim says:

      It need have a law that everybody must have a licence to operate on any boats. All captain and crew must be first aid and CPR trained on any paying toursit boats.

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