Drowning death ruled ‘death by misadventure’

A recent Coroner’s Inquest into the death of 18-year-old Adam Antonio Rankine returned a verdict of death by misadventure after he jumped off the cliffs at Pedro St. James and into the water below. 

Mr. Rankine died only a week after another young man drowned near the same location in late 2011 after he jumped into the waters off the southern coast of Grand Cayman. 

Juries in the Cayman Islands are only asked to rule whether the cause of any sudden death was due to suicide, death by misadventure or return an open verdict. Jurors are not asked to find any legal finding. 

During the inquest held on 18 April, several witnesses were called to give evidence including a friend and a sibling of the deceased. Officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service also gave evidence. 

The first witness called was Kristal Chung, 19, who told the court that she was at home when Adam and Aly – the 17-year-old sister of the deceased – came to by her house. She said they knew Justine Henry, the young man who had died under similar circumstances a week earlier. “I said we should go up there to see where Justin died,” Ms Chung said.  

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Once at the location, Ms Chung said Adam stated, “This jump looks like fun, but it would be hard getting back up.” 

Ms Chung said Mr. Rankine gazed at the waves for a time. “We then went to sit and talk, when we noticed he went over to the edge. I didn’t pay much attention until I didn’t see him anymore.”  

She added that they could here Mr. Rankine calling for help. 

“For a short time, he held onto the rocks, but another big wave came an knocked him into the water. We told him to swim but he said, ‘I can’t. I am tired. We were shouting at him to not give up but on fourth time he went down, he did not come back up’,” she said. 

During Ali’s evidence, she reiterated much of the testimony given by Ms Chung. She added that once in the water, Mr. Rankine could be heard saying, “Oh [expletive]”. She said he was calm until he began to swim in, at which time he went under and never came back up.  

After hearing further testimony from witnesses, including Jonathan Andrews of the police service’s marine unit, the jury retired to deliberate before returning a verdict of death by misadventure. 

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  1. A very sad tale indeed, but for any good to come of this, it must be read by newer divers / occasional divers. Rental scuba gear needs to be inspected thoroughly by the customer to insure it’s in good repair functioning properly. A damaged mouthpiece can be a nuisance to an experienced diver, and a possible cause for panic in a newer / occasional diver. Scuba does not lend well to being a once-a-year-on-vacation activity. If you want to dive, then dive regularly. Purchase your own equipment keep it in good repair via your local dive shop technicians. To do any less invites potential tragedy.