Coroner’s jury returns verdict
A jury in the coroner’s inquest
into the death of Oneil Percal Pusey returned a verdict of death by
misadventure. The physical cause of death was drowning.
The verdict was read Thursday, 18
Mr. Pusey had been aboard a
chartered Kirk Sea Tours party cruise on Friday, 13 October, 2006, to welcome
new staff to KPMG, where he had worked as an administrator for four years.
KPMG staff had gathered at Safe
Haven to board a day cruise to the Sandbar.
Carlos Garvin, charter captain,
told the court that upon realising there were too many people for his boat, Sun
Rays, he summoned the Peace Maker to assist with the charter.
Witnesses testified that they arrived
at the Sandbar at roughly 2.45pm and the mood was festive. There was plenty
food, music and alcohol.
Mr. Pusey was described as well
liked by everyone and sort of a “company clown’ in addition to being an
accomplished drummer and dedicated professional.
After spending the day at the Sand
Bar, Captain Garvin said he made sure everyone was onboard and began pulling up
Marketing Manager Jennifer Olarie testified
it was about 5.30pm when everyone was back on the boat and ready to go. She
said she looked out and saw another KPMG employee Hudson Lopez swimming toward
the boat and then observed Mr. Pusey lying face-down in the water.
He was not moving and her friend
started screaming, at which time someone dove in to assist him.
She said she observed what appeared
to be blue ink around Mr. Pusey’s head, which she described as being “weird’.
Ms Olaire said that after Mr. Pusey
was taken from the water, he was moved to a third smaller boat because it could
get to back to the dock faster than the two larger crafts.
She said people took turns
administering CPR on Mr. Pusey.
Upon arriving at the Safe Haven
dock, witnesses said the ambulance had not arrived but CPR was still being
Others to testify included David
Watt, who also worked at KPMG at the time. He described himself as Mr. Pusey’s
best friend in the office, but admitted he did not know Mr. Pusey could not
Mr. Watt told the court of a plan
suggested to him by Mr. Pusey to throw Mr. Lopez into the water for fun.
He said whatever Mr. Pusey
suggested he usually went along with and vice versa.
Mr. Watt said he knew Mr. Hudson
could swim because they had lived in the same complex and he had seen him in
The witness then described how he grabbed Mr. Hudson’s
hands but Mr. Hudson was too strong, so he called for the others and Mr. Pusey
held him from behind.
He said Mr. Pusey was at the back
bear hugging Hudson. He did not see Hudson go in the water but heard a splash.
Mr. Watt said he then went to the
bar because people were pushing one another and even tried to push him in as
At this time one of the secretaries
pointed out Mr. Pusey in the water lying face down.
Mr. Watt jumped in to get him,
along with Dayton Ebanks, who was with the crew of Sun Rays.
Mr. Watt said he tried turning
Pusey over and stuff was coming out of his mouth, which gave him hope because
he thought he was alive.
Captain Garvin testified he thought
he observed signs of life after Mr. Pusey had been taken out of the water, saying
he thought he saw the young man’s stomach move.
But Pathologist Shravan Joyti
described the Mr. Pusey’s dying process, saying the attending pathologist observed
signs consistent with drowning and perimortem wounds, which were probably caused
during death because circulation allowed blood to fill the tissues causing a
He said it was unclear if these wounds
would have caused Mr. Pusey to become concuss.
Cerebral edema, which is consistent with lack of oxygen to the brain,
was also observed in the autopsy report.
The doctor said foam was probably
coming from his airways because of the intense pulmonary edema or taking in of
salt water into the lungs.
He said Mr. Pusey could have vomited
due to the water he swallowed.
Mr. Joyti said finding pulse would
not be unusual in the last stages of life and explained that as people panicked
their pulse would have accelerated and the perception that there may have been
a pulse may have been totally subjective or in fact their own pulse.
He testified it usually takes about
three to four minutes for the brain to die and Mr. Pusey could have been in his
last moments of life, which caused the others to interpret this as signs of
As a result of the doctor’s testimony,
Queen’s Coroner Margaret Ramsay-Hale said she had no need to hear evidence from
the second man to administer CPR to Mr. Pusey.
She closed the inquiry into the
death and advised the jurors they had to say what caused Mr. Pusey’s death.
She told jurors that the options
for a verdict were death by misadventure, natural causes or they could return
an open verdict.
Suicide was not an option.