Elderly visitors die in watersports incidents

Diver, snorkeller were on Cayman Brac

Two American men, both over 65, died in separate watersports accidents on Cayman Brac this week, according to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

In the first incident – around 5pm Monday – a 68-year-old man was snorkelling in the harbour close to the Buccaneer’s Inn when he apparently lost consciousness, police said.

The elderly swimmer’s tour guide, a member of staff from Paradise Tours, took the man to shore and attempted to perform CPR. The snorkeller, a tourist from the US, was pronounced dead at the scene.

In the second incident, police said a 67-year-old man, also a tourist from the US, was diving with his wife Tuesday afternoon as part of an organised tour with Reef Divers.

Around 3.40pm police were informed that the man, who was disabled, lost consciousness while diving near Charlie’s Reef. Reef Divers staff brought the man to shore, and he was transferred to Faith Hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at hospital, police said.

Police enquiries are ongoing. However, officers said there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths.

RCIPS did not immediately release the identity of either man. According to Reef Divers crews, the 67-year-old disabled man had just gone into the water to begin the dive on Tuesday afternoon and had made it down to approximately 25 feet before he started having trouble. He apparently started coming back up and made it to about 10 feet before he lost consciousness.

“He wasn’t even in the water for a few minutes,” said Reef Divers general manager Michael Maher. “We don’t know what caused it.”

Mr. Maher said the man had been staying on Cayman Brac and that his family was with him for a vacation.

“He was just a really good guy,” he said.

The 68-year-old snorkeller was on a tour from Grand Cayman. It was also unclear what caused his death. Watersports-related deaths are fairly rare on Cayman Brac. Mr. Maher said he couldn’t remember one happening in at least the past three years.

The last time someone died in a watersports incident on the Brac was in October 2008, according to previous reports in the Caymanian Compass. That accident also involved a certified diver from the US who was on a boat dive.

According to the police at the time, the man got into trouble while swimming back to the dive boat. He lost consciousness while being helped back to the vessel and wasn’t able to be revived.

The diver in the October 2008 incident had been on board a vessel operated by Reef Divers and was in a group of tourists from Georgia in the US.