Cruise ship visitor found dead in North Sound

| 16/02/2012

(CNS): A 56-year-old man who was visiting the Cayman Islands on a cruise ship died yesterday afternoon in the area of Coral Gardens in the North Sound. The visitor was found floating on the water by people on a boat in the area, the police reported. The RCIPS said that shortly before mid-day Wednesday 15 February the emergency services received a report that the man was unconscious and unresponsive after the people on board the boat had lifted him onto their vessel and attempted CPR. The Joint Marine Unit vessel Tornado attended the location and transported the man to the Yacht Club, where paramedics were standing-by.

The visitor was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town, but was found to be dead on arrival.

Police said that enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident are ongoing and further details will be made available in due course.

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Comments (28)

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  1. Son says:

    Though the full autopsy will take a few weeks, we've been emailed a preliminary autopsy which suggests that he had a heart attack in the water. It says that there is a possibility that had minor heart attacks before, but didn't feel the effects when they occured due to his diabetes. It's kind of a surprise, because he ate relatively heathy and excercised a fair amount.

    Because the email was sent privately and not released publically, I don't think it is likely for the autopsy to be biased in favour of the tourist industry. The police statement is kind of hilarious though, saying that "The visitor was found floating on the water by people on a boat in the area," suggesting he was off on his own or something. He had actually left with the boat, was snorkling near it, and was surrounded by a group of people when he died.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Of course if you follow the cruise blogs you will see why this event is being so neatly swept under the rug.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'm still trying to understand how he got in the water.  

    The staff of the dive operations that I know of have First Aid Training but I'm sure that there are some that may not especially snorkel operators.  I think that this is happening too often.

     I would suggest that whenever a snorkelling or dive operation applies for a Trade & Business license that they have to produce a First Aid card for all of their staff.  I would also suggest that an AED should be on all boats.


    • Anonymous says:

      People can still die even with first aid. In fact, the vast majority of heart attacks result in permanent death depsite quick medical assistance by trained first responders.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Alan Nivia – EXACTLY! Hence the 'conveyor' approach and decline in safety. Operators need to hold a mirror up and get serious about acknowledging certain possibilities. Granted, other health maladies may cause death during or after diving but signing a waiver doesn't just discard a possible problem.     

    • Boat Boy says:

      It is time that the Government stepped in and acknowledged the serious problem.  But they won't because it might deter tourists and cost them a couple of votes.  A couple of votes matter when 250 votes can get someone elected.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    The man was a fit athlete and seasoned traveller. He has cruised and snorkelled frequently. He skied, canoed, bicycled, played hockey and touch football with his family. He neither drank nor smoked. He did underwater photography as a hobby. He was a controlled Type 2 diabetic and considered regular exercise a way of life.

    There was no spotter.

    There was no emergency defibrllator (AED).

    The was no one with any CPR training. Just his wife. A nurse. Who was the one who had to work on him. For 40 minutes.

    He was my brother. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sorry for your loss.  A review of this website will show how many other families have had to suffer in the same way.  Cayman watersport/tourism is very unsafe and there are inadequate safety measures required.  Anyone pointing this out is hounded into silence.  This is partly, if not largely, because the licences for these activities are all owned by locals and imposing first world safety requirements would hurt their profit margins.  Cayman allows operators to exclude all liability for their negligence even when it causes death or injury.  This rule alone means that there is no incentive to provide better care.  Tour operators selling cruises with visits to Cayman should look into these risk in more detail.

    • Luc (Canada) says:


      My sincerest condelences for your lost,  please extend to his Wife and the rest of the family. I was one of the guys who helped on that boat with pulling him out of the water, performing mouth to mouth and generally trying to revive him as best as we could, I was quite amazed at the strength of Jim's wife through this very tragic incident. As a passenger on that boat, I believe we did the best we could (at all times there was 3 – 4 of us working in rotation, including Jim's wife) and worked quite hard until the police boat showed up and then transported him back to shore. I'm not sure how he got in trouble, but we were all very much hoping he would make it through. RIP.

      • Son says:

        My mother wanted to thank you and everyone else present on the boat. She believes that you all did everything you could to help. 

      • noname says:

        It has almost been a year since Jim (my husband) died. It has been a long year and in other ways the time has gone quickly. It is great sadness that I recall that day, and sometimes relive that morning and all the events that lead up to that moment. Yes, I remember the men on the boat helping me, and I think you, Luc, saying 'come on Jim breathe!' It was not to be and death  is one of lifes great mysteries I guess. The whys will never be answered….and I must accept that.

        There was also another gentleman, I think he  may have brought Jim back to the boat, whom  I also remember. His wife and son were there also. I remember his wife crying as I left the boat, I wasin such a stateof shock at the time, her tears didn't register , in fact i remember thinking 'why is she crying'!  Unbelievable really.  Jim  died  in a strange place among strangers, and it seems unreal at times.  He was a wonderful man and his great  qualities continue to inspire me and my two sons to continue without him.  

        Thank you Luc for your kind thoughts expressed at the time.


    • Anonymous says:

      My prayers go out to you and your family. My husband and I were on the boat with your brother at this unfortunate and tragic event.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am so sorry for the loss of your loved one.  My heart does literally ache for the family and all who had to witness this tragedy.  I am speaking from personal experience as I lost my husband five years ago while vacationing on the beautiful island.  I have kept up with the local news since my loss, and it is tragic how many deaths occur while people are trying to enjoy a break.  However, I can aim NO blame at the tourist industry at all.  My husband died enjoying himself in a place he loved.  It's the same that you hear happening all over the world of people tragically passing away suddenly for no known reason.  We have got to stop blaming everyone for tragic events such as these.  Some of us will never know the real reason for losing our loved ones.  I have nothing but praise for the efforts of the locals to help my husband and the compassion shown by all the hospital staff and the locals aware of my tragedy.  The only people showing less compassion at the time were the policemen having to do all the questioning of the events.  They did lack in sensitivity training.  I also was not happy the way the reports in the paper tried to put blame on the diving industry.  It was senseless.  I agree that all tour boats and facilities should be equipped with any kind of resuscitation equipment–which they probably all are.  Through the years I have made myself understand that at least my husband died doing something he enjoyed in a place he loved and didn't have to suffer through some debilitating illness.  Again, I am sorry for your loss.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Poor health and probbaly never even SEEN an ocean before. What visitors need to bare in mind is that swimming can be very taxing on an inexperienced and unhealthy person, The dive industry needs to adopt the same waivers that Disney has for their theme park riders.


    But none the less, a very sad story to hear… 

    • Anonymous says:

      This post, focussing on waivers as a response to a serious problem of inadequate safety highlights the mentality that is way to pervasive in Cayman.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Has there been any additional information provided on the parties involved in the November incident?

  8. Anonymous says:

    We have had several deaths in Cayman waters to visitors all or 45, all in poor health and seemingly all in denial of pertinent health issues. Can we train our captains and their crew to look for possible health risk and escort them personally around the dive site? Your thoughts ?



    • Alan Nivia says:

      When the operators are allowed to make people sign complete waivers of liability then there is a clear moral hazard problem in Cayman – the economic interests of operators and the well being of their customers are not adequately aligned.

  9. Anonymously IRON CLAD says:

    OH NOOOO… Not AGAIN !!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Poco 1976  – "Here we go Again". Poor fellow, RIP.

    After Last week's dive death I posted about inexperience in our dive industry operations (as compared to twenty-odd years ago) contributing to the increasing number of dive accidents. Wonder what would explain losing a snorkler?

  11. Reality Check says:

    Yet another death on Cayman's tourist waterservices.  The death rate here is unacceptable and no-one wants to put safety before money.  It is a disgrace.

  12. How says:

    How did he get out there? Did the boat that dropped him there leave him ?


    • Caymanian Boat Captain says:

      The incident happened directly at the rear of the boat that the victim and his wife were travelling on, which was anchored at the time. The captain and his mate on seeing the distress, pulled the victim unboard and tried to resuscitate along with others, but to no avail.

      It is alleged that the victim was a diabetic.  

  13. Anonymous says:

    Where do you see that he was out diving?

  14. Anonymous1 says:

    Where was the Dive/Snorkel Boat that he might have been on? Didthey have a spotter on board? Next thing, after the two cliff diving deaths, the dive/snorkel industries made a big thing of making cliff diving illegal because of the dangers associated with it, but is the record of the diving/snorkeling industry any safer, other than it is a commercial business putting money in some one people's pockets, and the cliff diving is free so far? Who is taking responsibility for these victims? I haven't heard any outcry yet.


  15. Anonymous says:

    Is this deja vu or did this exact same thing happen a few months ago?

  16. Anonymous says:


    Snorkeling dangerous??

    Who are you people? Why does everything require some sort of commission, investigation and public outcry??

    The man didn't die through some traumatic injury. He wasn't run over by the boat. He likely had a heart attack which could happen anywhere and anytime. And yes, this will not be the last time a tourist dies in North Sound. Studies show that most of these "accidents" have more to do with the ill health of the person participating in the activity and not the safety record of the activity itself. I suspect that the number of deaths in North Sound compared to the number of people who visit every year is actually about the same as the number of deaths of people just participating in day to day life. The people participating sign waivers and are informed of the risks. If a grown adult isn't capable of making their own decisions about their own level of health and fitness for floating around in water no deeper than a pool then we are no longer living in a free society.

    And what is with the implications that this person was left behind?? Stop with the random assumptions. Some of the posters are clearly looking for excuses to paint an entire industry as unsafe but without all the facts behind a lone incident.

    To answer the question about the record of the dive/snorkel industry being safter than cliff jumping: in a word- yes. Stats show that the ratio of accidents to partipants is very low. In fact, you are about as likely to have a bowling accident as you are a diving accident.

    Now, who would like to start an outcry about the safety record of bowling??