Utah woman dies after dive off Seven Mile Beach

| 01/03/2012

(CNS): Police have confirmed that another visitor to the islands is dead after taking part in a dive this morning. The 70-year-old woman was reportedly taken ill as she was getting back on the dive boat having been on a dive at the at the reef area close to the Kittiwake off Seven Mile Beach. The woman is from Utah and was vacationing on Grand Cayman with family members. An RCIPS spokesperson said that shortly after 9.00am this morning, Thursday 1 March, the police received the report that the woman had lost consciousness. CPR was administered by dive staff as they transported her back to the North West Point Dock in West Bay, where they were met by the emergency services.

The woman was transported to the Cayman Islands Hospital where she was pronounced dead and police said that enquiries are now on-going into the latest of a growing list of water related deaths in the last few months.

Category: Local News

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Those waivers make good wallpaper. If there were negligence by the dive operator, I doubt they would be enforced.

  2. Friend of the victim's family says:

    Folks, I understand the desire to comment on this tragedy but please understand there is a grieving famil here in Utah and they can see all your comments…so I would ask you to please be gentle and not rush to judgment on way or the other.  Thank you very much. 

  3. Peter Milburn says:

    I will just add my few experienced words of wisdom to all this goings on about divers too old and the blaming of dive operators for diving accidents.I have been diving longer than pretty much anyone here in the Cayman Islands and still dive up to today.I too have turned away someone who in my opinion is not fit enough to dive like being totally over weight and out of shape.I am in the business to show what Cayman has to offer our visitors and yes I will tell folks that its too rough out there today and lets wait til things improve weather wise.Its not all about the almighty dollar with most dive operators so lets stop that argument right now.I have mentioned before and will say it again there some folks who come here and are not honest about filling out the medical questions that appear on the liability forms that most operators have filled out by the customer.Say what you may this is a problem sometimes and can lead to a serious problem while doing a dive.BUT because dive instructors  here in the Cayman Islands are better than most in other parts of the world we have avoided many instances during a dive by being professional in our resposibilities to our dive clients.In fact diving is one of the safest sports around PROVIDED divers take seriuosly the fact that it can become dangerous if one does not follow the safety guidlines that we set out for all dive operations.Some of you on here have said some stupid things like"if we meant to be underwater we would have gills"How about if we were meant to fly we would have wings?A lot of you who DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING about diving should try and learn something BEFORe opening your mouths so much.I recently took my G/Daughters on a resort dive and they had a wonderful time.This is what people need to do is to try and understand what diving is all about.With the proper training your eyes would be opened to one of the most rewarding of experiences that you can be involved in.and here in Cayman we have the best possible conditions for doing just that.We will continue to have accidents like in any other sports but considering the amount of divers that pass through these islands we have one of the best safety records of any country in this world.I will continue to promote diving until I can no longer dive myself but until then I will enjoy what has been the best time of my life as far as working is concerned.I am proud to be one of the leading dive instructors on the island and will continue to enjoy it as much as I can and will pass on whatever knowlege I can to the younger generation.Its like the ocean.Dont be afraid of it BUT respect it.and you will find how good it can be.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Diver – Thanks for a very informative response to my post questioning the safety practices implemented in diving in Cayman. I note that you are experienced and apply safe standards such as those you described. I must agree with some of the comparisons you made in regards to other sports and activities. However, I disagree with some of what you said and maintain my position that not all operators might do as you do and refuse some clients. I also maintain that some form of regulation is required, although, despite my closing call on Government to implement same I readily acknowledge that is tantamount to inviting the bureauracy, red tape and inefficiency similar to that experienced in other Government agencies.

    However, we know the unfortunate premise that 'perception is reality' and unless these dive accidents were kept quiet from the public (not suggesting), the perception is that diving in Cayman is becoming more and more unsafe.  What happens to your livelihood when that perception becomes 'real' to the world's dive enthusiasts, because perhaps not every operator was as cautious as you? 

    I wish you and those who dive with you continued safe diving.  

  5. A. Pastafarian says:

    There are a lot of interesting comments on this subject.  I feel bad about anyone dying but we must remember that death is somewhere down the road for all of us.  One commenter said he couldn't imagine a dive operator accepting a 70 year old man for other than commercial gain.  To that, I say HOGWASH!  I'm so old I can hardly remember 70 but I love diving and if I don't make it back someday, well… it will just have been "my time".  Another commenter said, "at least they die doing something they love."  That's the way I see it too, my friend.  I try not to exert myself and do not go below 100 feet anymore.  Diving isn't the safest sport in the world but I rate it right up at the top for an enjoyable pastime.  I feel likeI have a few more years left and I will continue diving until I, not someone else, decide to call it quits.  When I'm turned down by a dive operation I will continue shore diving, which is what I do mostly now anyway.   My children and my grandchildren love to dive and in a few years I'm hoping my great-grandson will have the opportunity……… and I'd like to be with him when he does.

    • Another Anon says:

      I just love your post! The positivity and zest for life radiates from your words. Enjoy doing what you love. I agree, you should decide when to call it quits. Have fun! 🙂

    • The Confused One from this BS says:

      So…… why don't you go below 100 feet anymore….. ????? Could it be…….. your AGE maybe…. ?? Ya think…… ????

  6. The Confused One with this BS says:

    So…… I have to put something BLUNTLY here….. ARE WE JUST STUPID!!!

    How can dive operators be allowed to sign on elderly clients…!? Yes we are still in a recession and they are despesrate for $$ to stay afloat (no pun inteneded…) but come on….. at the cost of someone's life… ! This is just ridiculous…. another example of how anything goes on this little rock…. These dive operations should be held responsible for the deaths of elderly clients and be shut down if it causes them to go bankrupt…. MAKE THEM LEARN A HARD HARD LESSON…..

    Why are we so CASUAL about all these elders dying from scuba diving….!? Can't anyone see an obvious, logical pattern here… I don't care what great shape and health an older person is in…. when the body gets to a certain age it is more fragile to underwater pressure than that of a younger more agile one….

    This has to seize….  an age limit should be determined and set for diving…. otherwise no business license….. it's only fair and logical…. what are these people even thinking strapping dive gear on to a 70 year old female!!!! ARE YOU INSANE….. GEEEEEEEZ!

    • Anonymous says:

      My mother is near 70 years old and she still going diving! She look after herself by doing swimming everyday. It these people who don't look after their health and body and STOP BLAMING DIVE OPERATORS AND INSTRUCTORS. I am dive instructor for 12 years with logged 5800 dives. Are you telling people don't fly on plane due they are too old?!?

      • The Confused One from this BS says:

        You are missing the point…. how many elderly people have just passed out and died on a plane… ? All you have to do on a plane is just sit in the same position the whole time and occasionally 'stretch' your legs….  there is no weight strapped to your waist/no dive tank (which carries WEIGHT in case you haven't checked)/you don't have to use your arms to PULL your way along….  SO YOU DO THE MATH…..

    • myopinion says:

      I respect every opinion and we all have the right to express it. Reading comments like yours makes me loose faith in human understanding. Thankfully there are many more reasonable posters and although I may not personally agree with all the points at least I can relate to the reasons why.

      Nobody straps a tank to anyone who doesn want to.  Nobody is "casual"  in the Scuba Diving business. It may seem casual to you that prefer a life in front of your TV with all the safety nets in place to protect  you and ready to find a guilty party without even knowing the facts. If it does make a good life for you, stay there. With your "logic" anyone over 60 should not be sold or be riding a bikecycle. Such a narrow minded logic is not called logic. It is called narrow mind, out of perspective and out of touch with life itself.

      May be we should create a department to held everyone responsbile for everything said and done. It so happen, then you would not be able to post such a moronic comment.

      It is insulting to the person and family affected by this tragedy. I am sure you have not idea of the facts, the whys and hows. To say  "are you insane strapping a tank to a 70 years old" is discriminative, contentious, callous and insensitive. 

      I do not know the diver, but is she felt the passion for life and diving I feel, i certainly undertsand why. I want to continue diving for as long as I can without people like you tell me what do. 

      In the meantime, you stay by your computer.  I dont think will be a restriction in posting yet, so you are safe.

      • The Confused One from this BS says:

        No one is seeing the LOGIC here….

        RIDING A BICYCLE(not bikecycle); sit down on seat, hold on to handle bars pedal pedals with your feet and away you go… breathe in fresh God-Given air….


        SCUBA DIVING: Take a training course(VERY IMPORTANT!)… Strap on a DIVE TANK via a vest(which carries it's own weight-heavy enough to cause a 70 year old to get tired and out of breath very easily and quick), strap on a WEIGHT BELT… ENOUGH SAID… put on all other required gear of course… dive mask/fins etc…. jump into the wide unpredictable God-Given OCEAN and breathe in man-made air…. and away you go…. soooooooo…..


        COME ON NOW…..

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope I am still diving when I am 70 and as long as I meet the medical requirements why shouldn't I be?  There are many people who are much younger who are in terrible shape, they don't keep up their skill sets etc.   I was on a boat where a woman who ended up in a panic attack on her dive admitted on the boat it had been 8 years since her last dive.  She lied on the form because her husband didn't want to be bothered to do a refresher. 

      We all make our own decisions in life.  This lady might have passed whether she was diving or not, perhaps she could have died miserably sitting in a wheelchair in a nursing home.  More power to her and shame on any one who would disrepect her life for choosing to actually live it.  With regard to the op doing it for money I totally disagree.  DEMA, PADI, DAN, etc., all have guidelines for safe diving practices.  As long as these are met it is a personal choice.  When you sign the waiver you are supposed to check off medical conditions, doctors advice etc.   I am sure this lady's family would not have been comfortable letting her dive if they thought she had health issues to preclude it.  I for one would rather pass doing something I love with the people I love, than be judged as too old by anyone who was not a specialist in the field of aging. 

      • The Confused One with this BS says:

        So……. what does DEMA, PADI, DAN etc. have to say about all of these reported deaths while diving…. ??? Are they concerned or just CASUAL about it like the rest of naive people on this island….

        I am literally sick of reading the headlines of these deaths…..

        • Anonymous says:

          You need to inform yourself more Mr.  You have your opinion already and nothing will change it. Live your life the way you want it, by your desktop. Don't venture to far, too deep, too high, too cold or too hot. You may get hurt and end up blaming somelse on the process. I know now you will be fine. You are the "Non naive Guy" the very "smart one", "always right analitical mind". Lucky you that grew up in that neighborhood!

          The rest of us will have to do with our poor analitical power, lack of skills and reading internet and low performance.


          If you read about DEMA, DAN, PADI, other destinations, diving incidents, mountain incidents, surfing incidents, traffic incidents, then you will have better understanding. 

          You insist with the word "CASUAL". The only casual here is the way you use the word.

          I am sure you are one of the few that without any clear understanding over a matter feels qualified to give an opinion based on the little you know. Oh, the pleasures of free posting…what a delight!

          There are a lot of people who cares everyday. Including many dive professionalsd who put their personal integrity at risk (even they are not required to do so) and prevent situations before they develop so very few really know what could have happened if it were not for their diligence.

          But how would you know? You will be behind your computer desk at 70 reading news and writting  angry posts, makin it real about "grumpy old man".

          Be safe!

          • The Confused One from this BS says:

            This reply to my comment doesn't 'hold any water' (no pun intended)….. if you are not one of these organisation's rep then you should not reply to this comment… you still didn't answer my question….. go back and read YOUR comment over and reconcile it with mine and it doesn't balance out sooooooo…….  but don't take until you are 70 to realise it…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but, 70 years old and diving??????  :-\\


    • Oldscubagit........... says:

      Why not?

      The movie actor James Stewart was still flying when he was in his 70s. John Glenn went back into space when he was 77.

      I'm not much short of this lady's age and still diving, did the Blue Hole in Dahab last year.


      • The Confused One with this BS says:

        Ok buddy…..  you are just shy of her age…. wait a couple years into your 70's and go diving and I'll check back with ya to see how ya doin'…. ALRIGHT!


  8. WeSoF*%#ed says:

    If we were meant to breathe under water we'd have been born with gills!

  9. Diver says:

    Scuba Diving from a dive operation is not a "right". Hence a dive shop can and they do turn away customers that are deemed unfit or just display a plain rogue behavior (wanting to dive deep, solo, not having a Certifiaction Card or not having dived for over two years or more). Turning away these candidates happens and dive operators inform each other with names and descriptions of the subjects to alert the other shops.

    It is very interesting to me that in a small community where Scuba Diving is so prevalent and well known, there are still people out there that believe Diving is so dangerous, the Cayman operators are uncaring and that for the sake of a dollar send anyone to scuba dive regardless of training or fitness. These are the same ignorant people that are afraid of doing anything near the ocean and press on on blaming everything to others.

    Scuba Diving in Cayman has an impecable track record with thousand of divers hitting the waters every day and enjoying themselves. Just like anything else, people that come to dive are not thinking that today's dive will be their last one. If they did, they probably would not go diving. People with a driver's license go out on the road driving everyday. Many of them are not fit to drive but still do it never the less. They think they will be okay.

    Dive shops do a lot to maintain a safe standard. Dive Instructors take great responsibility in insuring that every day. But a certain degree of ability,the most responsibilty and duty of care goes with the individual. In everything we do there is a risk and we as individuals need to exercise our own right to our own responsibility, knowing that we may not be ready to do what we are about to do today. We stop divers daily trying to put themselves and others at risk. Getting irate because we don not rent them a tank or gear or do not let them go "solo". They even try to teach their own family because "they have been diving for 20 years". 

    When things do go wrong these very same people are the ones that look back and ask why they were not stopped or why the Dive Master did not leave the entire group to assit them. 

    In the end, activities like Scuba Diving will continue. Well trained divers will continue to be licensed from Dive Operators and they will enjoy hundreds of dives. Hopefully many of them will realize that as time pass and we age, other considerations will be necessary, specially taken care of ourselves and knowing when not to take a dive if we do not feel well or against the advice of the professionals. Thinking cleary while we are on vacation is a key!

    Personally, I will do my best to dive safely; give the best guidance possible to my customers; keep my dive shop and collegues from liability and make sure people get the most from their vacaction. There are and always will be unforeseeable factors to participants that will lead to a tragic outcome.But overall I will insist in making sure that they understand that as humans beens we are ultimately responsbile for our actions. And those actions in many instances lead to actions from other participants that by getting involved become responsible in the eyes of the rest of us.

    If I had may way when my time comes, I would rather  be on my deathbed surrounded by my friends and family at an old age, without pain, telling Dive stories and laughing uncotrollable until I pass of laughter. But if it happens while I am diving or climbing a mountain or getting into a cave, my only regreat will be that perhaps I was not as good as I thought I was. Sorry about that. But I rather go that way and judged a bad diver than be crashed in a car accident, shot dead in a mugging on West Bay Road or suffer a bad long illness. I will enjoy life to the fullest and don not fear… I will not blame others for not taking care of myself!









  10. Anonymous says:

    Since the beginning of this year  there have been a few dive or water-related deaths. Excluding a veteran diver who had a heart attack after diving, the child who fell into the pond, the young men who went off Pedro bluff in the week after Christmas, these deaths have occured during the course of snorkeling or diving. 

    I have previously posted that the number of such deaths has increased significantly over the past 20 years, above and beyond the proportionate ratio of divers by comparison (I personally believe that there were more divers 20 years ago anyway). I have suggested that safety has decreased in favour of commercialism. I would venture to say that my opinion has validity because I cannot imagine under what other circumstances would a dive operator accept a 70 year old client other than for commerical gain.

    Yes, there is the argument that a person's physical condition could be the medical end cause of these deaths and not anything to do with the management of their diving experience. I argue that proper dive management includes the willingness to refuse a client because of certain factors – age and body weight being the two most obvious. With all due respect, older members of our population and those battling weight problems  should avoid the physical stresses of diving. While it looks and is in fact relatively routine and easy, the physics of diving has a significant physiological effect on the human body.  

    Obviously, not every client with a physical risk will be abale to be identified in advance by dive staff – they aren't doctors – but obvious risk categories should be excluded. Having a client sign a waiver of liability is simply not good enough.

    The same dive industry which is turning its eyes away from its members 'conveyor' practices will be the same dive industry to suffer the commercial loss when the safety reputation of the Cayman Islands diving becomes tarnished. Sadly for the rest of us, most of those employed in that industry can just get on a plane and return to from whence they came, leaving the Cayman Islands tourist economy and reputation in a shambles.

    Since there is no national regulatory dive authority, the dive industry should be professional enough to regulate itself.  Not the best practice but better than nothing at all.

    Government, despite this being another facet of bureaucracy and thus another expenditure, is our economy and reputation not worth the establishment of an agency to regulate watersports safety??? It's long overdue!!! 


    • Diver says:

      By the same talking you would not be oposse then to regulate who enters a Fast Food restaurant, ask for cholesterol reports and decided if we let them eat there or not, just in case something bad happens.

      I undertsand regulating things like buidlings, health services, education, driving licenses, electricians and Doctors. Lets regulate recreational boat buyers and users who have no idea of the minimum sea rules! But I do not need anyone to dictate what sport or activity I can or can not do. I feel I can do my own assesment rationaly andI think also the pain and suffering I can cause others by my actions.

      If a shop does not want to sell me a soccer ball because they are afraid for my health, so be it. They have their right to do so.

      We need to be educated rather than obliged on the risks of the activities we do for pleasure.

      I know for the fact that I am part of the Dive Industry that operators are diligent to "interview" politely those candidates that are over 50, seem a bit appreensive, not well fit, and reccomend how to proceed. I can and do tell them they can not dive with us. But I can not tell them they can not dive at all anywhere. 

      The industry is not greedy and has regulated itself for a long time better than most official departments.

      It is your opinion that there are less divers and more incidents now. I am not so sure about that. I do know the demographics have changed and while 40 years ago divers in the Cayman were diving deeper than 140 feet, without the benefits of nowday equipment both for diving and rescue training we have today, the divers were younger, fitter, bolder (ignorant) and luckier. That is just about it.

      We can regulate soccer practice if you like. Nothing takes over education, knowledge and personal responsibility. 

      You are right that signing a waiver may not be enough. But in the end it is part of the system we created to protect ourselves from these situations. You sign a waiver when you rent a car and promise to drive correctly. You sign a waiver for a medical procedure to inform you of the risks. You evaluate the risks to the best of your knowledge and the professionals that advice you. In most instances, people accept the risks. But I know in my business when we see the facts do not fit, no matter if the waiver was signed or not. We will not let the diver take the trip. It is the gray area that it is the most difficult and in most instances dive shops err on the side of caution rather than careless.

      At least that is my experience and opinion. If it counts for something, I have been in the Cayman Islands Dive Industry for ove 25 years and overall for 37 with experience both in commercial and recreational dive industry. There is always room from improvement and keep on the look out. I just feel that the industry here takes an undeserved toll when there are many people who does a great job daily keeping an eye on our customers while neighboring Caribbean countries are still on the infant stages of safe diving.

      I suposse we can not please every opinion all the time. I for my part will continue my effort to keep the blame to the minimum, analize the facts and gather conclusions that help for the betterment of the industry as a whole (safety, comfort and pleasure of the visitors) because is the right thing to do and not under the "fear" of been regulated by someone else. I do not need to be patted on the back to do the right thing when I know what's right.

      And we see the lack of that every day in simple things: Driving while on the phone; parking on the wrong place; ignoring simple community unwritten but well known rules. People put themselves under unnecessary risks daily.

      We need to start by doing the right thing everyday without having someone to watch over our shoulder. Take responsibility for what it is: YOUR OWN. And stop blaming everything to others. Most importantly, look at yourself and make sure you follow every procedure, rule and regulation and your common sense. Make sure your own actions everyday, are not a possible cause of risk toward someone else (like use the pedestrian crossing instead of putting a driver on jeopardy because you crossed the road on the wrong place!)

      Then and only then we can start talking seriously about taking individual responsibilities toward self and others.

  11. Alan Nivia says:

    Someone in the United States cruise associations or the UK or US press needs to investigate the almost weekly deaths in the greedy Cayman watersports industry.  Nowhere else would allow this carnage to continue and since no-one in Cayman is doing anything about it, someone exeternal must.  I am sending a link to all the recent deaths to the US trade bodies and some US and UK newspapers. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Having worked in the local wartersports industry, let me add my 2 cents;

      The main reason for untimely deaths with our visitors, whether it be snorkelling or diving is down to the fact that the majority of them lie on their waivers prior to the dive about their health so that they can participate in the activity.

      If you are willing to lie about such things as the state of your health, then your are inherently aware of the risks associated with the activity and are clearly willing to take such risks in pursuit of such acitivities.

      Throw in other factors such as "going overboard" in terms of eating and drinking while on these cruises prior to diving and its a recipe for disaster.

      When these visitors meet their untimely deaths, one thing can be said without question, and thats at least they die doing something they love.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sadly that is true. How do you deal with someone who who ticks 'no' on all the waiver questions then uses some sort of inhaler on the dive boat between dives – it's happened to me.

        Some years ago I went out to lunch with a customer in the Bahamas and he produced half a pharmacy to go with the meal, I think there were eight different meds he had to take with every meal and they all had some sort of contra-indications when it came to diving. No way on this planet he should have been diving but he still signed off on the waiver.

        The cruise lines are also a sick joke, they take the money, allegedly do all the paperwork and then try to blame the dive operation when things go wrong.

        As has been posted before I offer my sympathies to the family and friends of this lady and also to the team on the dive boat – I've been there and this is not something you recover from over a few beers. 



      • Alan Nivia says:

        Waivers are disgusting.  The legal risk should be on the watersports provider to confirm that participants are fit for the activity in question.  The exclusion of liability for personal injury caused by negligence should be illegal, as it is in most civilized nations.  People are dying in Cayman because of greed.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wrong. Very wrong. A waiver does not release anybody from negligence. A waiver simply means that the diver requested to go diving and stipulated certain facts like having a C card and not any counterindications for diving. Diving is a sport and a very enjoyable sport for many. Just like private piloting, 10K races and other sports it has some risks. That is way proper training is essential and rigidly adhered to in the Cayman Islands. I am 72 years of age and have 8000 dives all over the world. I expect to enjoy diving for many more years.

          Ron Kipp

    • Anonymous says:

      It could also be suggested that the the cruise lines bear some sort of resonsibility as it is them who signs the visitors up for the activities on island prior to them dismebarking the ship.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey, how about the 'greed' on the cruise ships?  Very healthy!  Probably allows more carnage than watersports on Cayman!

    • Reality Check says:

      The thumbs down indicate the breadth the culture of silencing opposition to local money making scams.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry. But you are taerribly mis-informed. The cruise industry? Perhpas we should get Carnival to have the ex-Captain of the Costa ship come over and helop the dive industry with safety standards. The Cayman dive industry is the envy of the world wide diving industry. Diving has risks…just like golf or driving a car. If, by chance, you wee going to have a heart attack I suggest you would be far better treated on a CI dive boat than at the airport or the Govt. Admin Bldg.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Seriously CNS does the last line in this story really neccessary? –“police said that enquiries are now on-going into the latest of a growing list of water related deaths in the last few months.”– You give the impression we are just killing off people in the water. You will find that Natural Causes play into 99% of these cases which is unfortunate.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes it is! sounds like you are the owner of the company and don't want anyone to find out!

    • Alan Nivia says:

      More denial.  As operators are desperate for cash, given no action is ever taken to prosecute these companies and since, horrifically, they can exclude all liability for their own negligence, is it any wonder they are so many many deaths in Cayman's waters?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone ever turned away from a dive or is it left up to the customer to decide if they can do it safely?

    • Anonymous says:

      My guess is that if they sign the appropriate waivers then it's in the hands of the diver. Certainly in 20 years of diving I've never seen anyone, including several people who were clearly in very bad physical condition, turned away in Cayman.

      Contrast this to the Red Sea where last year I had to produce a current (within the previous 12 months) medical exam before diving. The medical isn't an infallible health check but it should pick up any obvious problems.

      One problem in the Cayman Islands is the length of time it takes to find out what caused these deaths. The inquest into this probably won't be held until 2013.

      My sympathies to the lady's friends and family.


      • Anonymous says:

        The Rsd Sea is a s&*^ hole of diving safety. The Ccayman Idlsnds is the envy of he entire diving world. We have many divers and the dive operations do  NOT put safety in second place. I have 100'0s of dives all over he world and know that Cayman is not only the best dving but the safest diving.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you have written documentation to back up that "fact"?  The safest in the world?