Former PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico suffered a death by misadventure while snorkeling near the North Sound sandbar on June 1, 2016, a jury unanimously determined at a coroner’s inquest on Monday.
Mr. Enrico, a U.S. national who owned a home at Cayman Kai, was visiting the territory with his family and friends, and went on a snorkeling trip with three friends around 1 p.m. on the day of his death.
According to a witness statement read by Coroner Eileen Nervik, one of Mr. Enrico’s friends advised him to swim against the current toward Rum Point, which would allow him to float to their boat on his way back.
But instead, Mr. Enrico swam down-current, and was about 100 yards away from the other three people before they realized he had gone in the opposite direction.
One of the friends went to retrieve Mr. Enrico, and found him floating face-down and unresponsive, Ms. Nervik read from the witness statement.
Mr. Enrico was taken aboard the boat, and one of his friends began administering CPR.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officer Dwight Rivers said at the inquest that he and other members of the RCIPS marine unit responded to the scene shortly after 2 p.m., and transported Mr. Enrico to George Town. Emergency medical technicians took Mr. Enrico to the Cayman Islands Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:46 p.m.
Pathologist Shravana Jyoti told the jury on Monday that he determined that the cause of Mr. Enrico’s death was a “probable acute cardiac event” and “seawater drowning.” The former Pepsi CEO had a heart attack in 1990, and had suffered two strokes in the previous six years, he said.
Before jurors started deliberating the evidence, Ms. Nervik instructed them to consider two important factors. A cardiac event would suggest that Mr. Enrico’s death was by natural causes, she said. However, “water is a tremendous factor here,” she said, explaining that Mr. Enrico, who was 71 when he died, may have had a chance to survive his cardiac event if it had occurred on land.
After deliberating for less than 15 minutes, the jury returned with its death by misadventure verdict.
Mr. Enrico is widely credited with helping form some of Pepsi’s most iconic advertising campaigns, involving celebrities like Michael Jackson and Madonna. He was labeled the “Cola King” during the 1980s for his success in elevating the Pepsi brand to compete with Coca Cola.
Mr. Enrico also was an investor in the Comfort Suites hotel on Grand Cayman, and remained good friends with hotel owner Burns Rutty and his family.