American diver is 14th water-related fatality this year

A tourist from the United States died Sunday after he surfaced in distress from a dive off North West Point. He was the 14th water-related death this year, far more than the average number of water sport fatalities Cayman normally experiences. Gary Paul Kodman, 65, of Tennessee, was scuba diving with Reef Divers at Orange Canyon on Sunday morning, police said. Emergency services received a 911 call just before 10:30 a.m. and an ambulance met the dive boat at the dock. Mr. Kodman was pronounced dead at the Cayman Islands Hospital.

Mr. Kodman was the seventh diver fatality this year. Based on records reviewed by the Cayman Compass, the country has had an average of eight to 10 fatalities related to boating and water sports per year. The number of water-related deaths in Cayman surpassed that average in June.

Of the seven divers who lost their lives this year, all were tourists over age 50. The youngest diver death was a 53-year-old technical diver from the U.S. who was using a rebreather in West Bay in late May. The oldest was a 70-year-old man from the U.S. who also got into trouble off West Bay.

Three people died in water sports incidents in November. On Nov. 29, a 14-year-old boy on a snorkeling trip with the Bonaventure Boys Home got into trouble off South Sound and died.

Four weeks ago, a 54-year-old Canadian woman died off East End while on a trip with Tortuga Divers. In that incident, the woman surfaced and indicated to the crew on the dive boat that she was having difficulties. By the time they got her on the boat she was unconscious, and she was pronounced dead two hours later at the Cayman Islands Hospital.

The day before, Nov. 9, two men were thrown from a boat in North Sound. A Norwegian national, 58, died from his injuries.

In the most recent incident, Mr. Kodman had arrived on Saturday with his wife.

Cayman Emergency Medical Services Director Stephen Duval said that the waters were rough Sunday. He said the crew on the dive boat began giving Mr. Kodman CPR on the way back to the dock and were met by an ambulance. Mr. Duval said he did not know how long it took the boat to reach the ambulance, but emergency workers continued to give CPR until arriving at the hospital.


  1. I am very sad to hear of a other tragic death. I have to think that the reason for all the tragic deaths are somewhat caused by the lack of responsibility, I seen this start from the early 1980’s where watersport companies would put inexperienced people in charge. We have to know that operating a watersport business take a great deal of experience and responsibilities. In my 20 years experience as a charter boat captain, I learned that you ask people if they know how to snorkel, the answer I got was yes, but when I put then in the water I seen that they didn’t know how to. Then after that my responsibility changed from asking the passengers to telling and teaching them how and what we would be doing for the day, everyone loved it and kept coming back every year.

  2. Sorry to read about this. The currents are strong round NW Point. Many tourists only dive a couple of times a year. Easy to get out of condition.

    Was he using his own or rental equipment? Was the cause of death equipment failure?

    I recommend diving with a redundant air supply such as Spare Air. Also with an inflatable flag so you can be seen from a distance

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