Female snorkeler, 29, dies after EE incident

A 29-year-old American tourist died Friday night after getting into difficulty during a swim with her husband, Royal Cayman Islands Police reported. Police Monday named the woman as Christina Jean Spradling from Ohio.

Police said the couple was snorkeling off East End around 5:30 p.m. Friday when she “developed difficulties” and an ambulance was called.

The woman was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital where she was pronounced dead about two hours later.

The incident is under investigation by the marine police unit.

This story has been updated to include the name of the woman.


  1. Very sad to hear of another tourist death while snorkeling. I have to wonder if a prime cause is panic if water gets into the snorkel tube. This is especially a problem if seas are choppy.

    It is easy enough to “bubble” air around the water in your mouth and then blow it out. But I am sure most beginners are not told how to do it.

  2. I am sad to hear about another tragic death and give the family my condolences.
    I still think that the Cayman Islands hotels should adapt a life guards system for the safety of the guests, and for the record.
    Just say if there was a life guard that asked the couple a few questions and had them sign it, wouldn’t that be of good help to the police investigation?
    Wouldn’t that show good responsibility to the tourist?
    But something needs to be done about it.

  3. They were driving past Health City hospital from the East End. It might have saved her if the medical assistance started sooner. It appears she was still alive upon arriving to CIH.

  4. One more thing. Each year calendar of Hawaii jellyfish caution dates is published. There are jellyfish in the Caribbean. Some days more some less. Some people might be sensitive and allergic to jellyfish stings. I get stung often. It feels like electroshocks. It leaves a “print” of the tentacles’ contact with my skin.
    I have never heard about current statements, watches, advisories, and warnings for Grand Cayman beaches.
    Something out of ordinary might have happened for such a young person to get into difficulties while snorkeling.

  5. I would like to know why is it that an ambulance continuously passes a hospital to go 20 miles with a patient in distress.
    Mean to tell me that some understanding cannot be discussed with the Shetty Hospital and the CIHS as yet.
    The many people that have died just trying to get them to George Town Hospital is preposterous. What is going on anyway, can someone answer?

    • One would think that most visitors are insured in their countries since they can afford to vacation in the Cayman Islands. So my guess is that an ambulance decides to which hospital an accident victim goes and it will go to the nearest hospital first if a person is in critical condition. Unless they are instructed otherwise or Health City Hospital is prohibited to provide such services. But then again, they saved John Miller III who suffered life-threatening injuries as the result of a motorcycle accident.

  6. It’s true, Twyla. Us East End residents are actually risking our lives by living out here. Not only may it take 30 mins (or more) for an ambulance to reach us in the event of an emergency, but then we have to be driven all the way into town, right past the best hospital on the island. With snorkeling, diving and holiday-makers on this end of the island, as well as all of the local residents, many of whom are elderly, we aren’t being well served by the healthcare services.

  7. Very good point, Susan, to have all of the citizens of East End to take this issue to the East End government representative to make him know how much your lives are at risk because of politicians not doing the right things for the people.

  8. But Mr Christoph, why isn’t it an emergency hospital too? It really doesn’t make sense to make a hospital that size for one purpose. Or is it a decision by government to what they can do? But the people must die trying to get to George Town hospital.

    • My best guess is because it’s a private facility and as such are entitled to offer whatever services they wish. Building, equipping and staffing an emergency room is much different than providing surgery and other medical services on referral. Government has nothing to do with it.

  9. Well then don’t tell me that Government has nothing to do with it. Who gave permission for it to be built in the first place, and why they were not thinking in the first to where the development of the hospital should have been put and what it should offer for development and for the citizens of the country. It’s called negotiating the deal before it’s done.

  10. We do not know this couple/family, but watched the tragedy unfold that late afternoon in front of our condo at The Morritts – and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the trauma since. It appeared everyone did their best in the moment, but I wondered since, how things might have played out differently or a future tragedy could prevented. In this case it sounds like the couple were experienced in the water, but the sea waters are unpredictable and the undercurrent can shift and be super strong can sweep you away and cause panic. I don’t know the details of what went wrong, but I do know that a lot can.
    Morritts – How about a daily 15 minute resort clinic at the infinity pool just a few steps from where this happened, basics on snorkeling so new snorkelers have some safety tips? 5 year olds to 90 year olds are out there. Make it a FREE course and promote it in your daily flyers left on our doors. A fun activity and talk about safety too. How to properly use equipment, get out of trouble, recognize a strong current and how to deal with it. Suggest life jackets and why. Best places and safest places to see good things like Mimi’s Dock. Generally, it’s all fun and seems easy, until something like this happens. Information costs nothing – could only be a good thing!
    Emergency – I’ve never thought about the proximity of the hospital in an emergency, until now. The response time, the valuable time lost while waiting, was unbearable to watch. Other guests were trying to help, security was called, I’m sure the 911 call was made quickly but it seemed like forever before help got there for the the wife on the first trip in, and then the husband who was in shock lying on the beach waiting for the second ambulance. I don’t know enough, but it raises a lot of questions as to emergency procedures as a guest, or even a resident on the East End.
    East Enders, what is the emergency protocol? I’ve never asked until now. George Town emergency room 45+ minutes away? Not something fun to think about while on vacation, but we are divers too, and this accident has highlighted the issue. How should an emergency be handled on this side of the island? I’ll be asking a lot more questions!! Every East End guest should be asking.
    It was very odd in an eerie way, when the next day it was business as usual, new guests, new snorkelers in the same area, unaware that just the day before a woman lost her life, doing exactly what they were doing – something as seemingly simple and fun as snorkeling. There needs to be a conversation!
    Ultimately, I am so very sad for this young couple and family who lost their beautiful wife, daughter, sister, friend, who are hurting in the deepest way. I will not forget, my heart goes out to them.

  11. Now that it’s not only the citizens of East End that see that 45 minutes drive in emergency is too long, and maybe some steps would be taken to prevent these kind of tragedies from ever happening again.
    A very good suggestions on the free snorkeling instructions and how to handle yourself in the water/ocean, and it should be mandatory for all hotels and condo on the Islands, cause it’s never a good feeling of losing a loved one.
    Again I give the family my condolences.

    • And I will repeat that I have never heard about currents and undercurrents statements, watches, advisories, and warnings for Grand Cayman beaches. Shouldn’t it be mandatory?
      Such a senseless tragedy.

  12. Yes Ron. This is our 5th year visiting and I made a false assumption – like I’m sure most do – that medical emergency care is readily available just like at home. It is not! No lifeguards or resident doctor at the resort (that I’m aware of) either. This fact adds tremendous risk to every activity on the East End especially in the water. Accidents happen, but here, there is a weak safety net. Visitors need to know this! And resorts should be taking extreme measures to keep guests informed and offering water safety tips; guidelines on swimming, currents, snorkeling and have eyes on the water if possible because of it.

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