Incidents in Cayman Waters Claim Two

Two men died Wednesday in separate incidents involving water activities around Grand Cayman.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said one man got into trouble while on a dive just off the shore line in George Town near the Sunset House Resort. The second victim was swimming near the sand bar in the North Sound.

Managers at Sunset Divers told the Caymanian Compass the diving incident happened around 10.30 Wednesday morning.

‘We had a fatality and he suffered a heart attack,’ said Mike Pinnington. ‘It occurred just left of Sunset House on a shore dive.’ Police said a staff member from Sunset Divers swam out to help the man and performed CPR until medics arrived. The victim was later pronounced dead at hospital.

RCIPS spokesperson Deborah Denis said the diver was 54-year-old Michael Lee Kuntz from Nebraska, USA.

Mr. Pinnington said the man was an island visitor who had been staying at one of the hotels along Seven Mile Beach.

Less than an hour after the diving incident, the 911 Emergency Communications Centre got a report of a man who was found floating unconscious in the water at the Sandbar. Police said he was taken back to shore by the boat he had come out on, and transported to hospital by medics. He also did not survive.

The second victim was identified as 71-year-old Zong-ha Yune from Korea.

He was a passenger aboard the cruise ship Freedom of the Seas.

RCIPS recently released statistics to the Compass that showed there had been 10 deaths in the Cayman Islands last year that were watersports related. A coroner’s jury has not reviewed any of the cases, so official causes of deaths are still pending.

According to the stats, seven of the 10 deaths in 2006 involved snorkelers and three involved divers. Eight of the 10 victims were from the United States. All but one of them was older than 48.

Cayman Islands Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said at the time those stats were released that these islands have a good record when compared with other Caribbean vacation spots.

‘Cayman has always been known as a very safe destination for both scuba diving and snorkeling,’ said Mr. Clifford in the previous interview.

Local dive and snorkel tour operators said businesses can’t be blamed for someone having a heart attack while out with their vessels. Many companies who belong to the Cayman Islands Tourism Association have drawn up their own strict set of guidelines for vessel and passenger safety.

The Cayman Islands Port Authority also regulates and inspects small commercial vessels