A dive shop worker, three local residents, a young cruise ship passenger and Cayman Islands Emergency Medical Services crews worked together to rescue an elderly tourist who was floundering in the waters off Eden Rock on Friday morning.
At press time, the 86-year-old man was still in the hospital critical care unit in George Town, but he was said to be breathing normally and his condition improving.
“He’s awake and doing well,” Scott Smith, an employee at Eden Rock Diving Centre said Sunday morning. “He will probably be in the hospital until Tuesday. He had a small heart attack.”
The elderly man, who was apparently vacationing in Grand Cayman with his daughter, wasn’t diving but snorkelling in the waters near Eden Rock about 50 yards off the George Town waterfront.
“I heard a shout and looked out and saw a woman holding a guy afloat in the water,” Mr. Smith said. The England native, who has only been working in the Cayman Islands about four months, grabbed his snorkel mask and swam out to the pair in the water.
By the time he got there, the elderly man was underwater and no longer breathing. His daughter, despite her best efforts, couldn’t keep him afloat. “He wasn’t breathing and there was a lot of foam and blood coming out of his mouth,” Mr. Smith said. “I just flipped him over and took him back to shore.”
By that time, others had gathered near the waterfront and Mr. Smith had some help.
“There was a local guy, Michael Maes and a woman with him; some guy named Wood; he’s English, and then a lad who was off one of the cruise ships,” Mr. Smith said. “Between us we started CPR.”
They managed to get the octogenarian breathing again after six minutes. Ambulance crews took him to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town.
Bad year in waters
So far, 2012 has been a disastrous year in Cayman Islands waters.
A total of eight people died in water-related accidents in the Cayman Islands between late December and late February – just two months.
Four of those deaths involved tourists, three other victims were Caymanian boys or young men who either fell or jumped into the water.
Typically, Cayman will average between eight and 10 water deaths in a year.
In March, a 70-year-old female tourist died after a dive at the Kittiwake site off Seven Mile Beach, she became the eighth water-related fatality of 2012.
Also, while the fate of missing 30-year-old school teacher Nathan Clarke remains unclear, local police have uncovered substantial evidence that Mr. Clarke entered the waters off Seven Mile Beach prior to his disappearance.
Mr. Clarke’s cell phone was found a short distance off shore by a snorkelling tourist a few days after his disappearance.