Police helicopter tracks down divers, WaveRunner

Three divers caught in a current off the northwest coast of West Bay wave to the police helicopter for help. - Photos: RCIPS

The Royal Cayman Islands Police helicopter, along with civilian watercraft, managed to track down a broken-down WaveRunner, its stranded driver and a group of divers who were in difficulty, all in one Sunday afternoon rescue effort.

Everyone involved was returned to shore off North West Point Road, West Bay, in good health.

“Once again, the combination of a speedy response by the helicopter crew and critical assistance from civilians at the scene safely resolved two incidents that could have had a far worse result,” said Air Operations Unit Commander Steve Fitzgerald. “This underscores again the necessity of having the proper equipment and safety procedures for all marine activities. Luckily in both incidents, people on shore were able to raise the alarm.”

The initial call came around 5:20 p.m. Sunday, when a resident spotted a WaveRunner drifting off the northwest coast of Grand Cayman. The RCIPS helicopter located the WaveRunner, drifting two miles offshore, and helped two other civilian WaveRunner operators find the stranded man. By 5:40 p.m., the WaveRunner was being towed back to shore.

At 5:41 p.m., while the helicopter was still in the vicinity, the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call of six divers having difficulties, also off North West Point Road. The police helicopter located all six divers about 200 yards offshore.

A private boat picks up the three divers after the RCIPS helicopter crew directs it to where the divers are floating on the surface.

“They appeared to be caught in the current at that location and seemed exhausted,” a police statement on the second incident read.

The helicopter crew hailed a nearby fishing vessel and asked its operator to head toward the divers to assist. Three of the divers managed to swim to shore, the other three were taken on board the fishing craft.