US visitor pulled from sea dies at GT hospital

| 04/03/2014

(CNS) Updated: The 62-year-old man who got into difficulties in the ocean off Coconut Bay Villas, in North West Point, West Bay yesterday has died, police have confirmed. Charles Lee from Pennsylvania, USA was snorkelling with his wife and sister at around 1:30pm yesterday. They snorkelled out near to the drop-off but as they chatted on their return to shore at around 2:06 pm, the deceased stopped talking, and his wife saw he was floating with his head out of the water and his eyes half opened and rolled back. The wife signalled for help and her husband was pulled out of the water, and a friend administered CPR until the EMT arrived.

He was taken to the George Town Hospital and admitted to the Critical Care Unit and placed on life-support. However, an RCIPS spokesperson said that at about 4:08 on Thursday morning 5 March he was pronounced dead.

Lee is the second visitor to the Cayman Islands who has died in less than one week while snorkelling. On Sunday a 46-year-old man visiting from Canada drowned when he was snorkelling in the Eden Rock area of George Town and his body was found by divers returning to shore.

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  1. UHUHUH says:

    I think I've figured out what is causing a lot of the snorkeling accidents and deaths involving these older persons! I do believe these incidents are caused by the inhalation of "that salty sea water" which causes them to panic after which the victim then begins to fight for their breath, and at the same time begin pulling off their mask. By doing this while fighting for their breath they inhale more water still. 

    This then I believe is one, if not the major causes of why this is happening to supposedly healthy persons. I know for fact that a lot of these people who come here are used to snorkeling in fresh water lakes and have never snorkeled in ocean. And, I have seen the panic on the faces of even "healthy young adults" who, after inhaling our salty sea water, have expressed the fear and panic that  overwhelmed them, while trying to catch their breath.

    So I suggest that it be mandatory that operations that rent snorkeling gear must inform the renter of this danger and what they should do if this happens to them.

    I still have one question tho. Why is it, that it always seems to happen to the, older men? I have never heard, "that I can recall" of this happening to any older women! Just saying.

    • Anonymous says:

      So.. just to clarify… you want rental operations to inform people of the dangers of inhaling salt water? Seriously? Yes, clearly you've figured this out alright. Better call the coroner with your valuable insights. 


      • sumbodi hep us "PLEASE" says:

        Thanks 8:48.

        What I should have said was: The accidental aspiration [inhalation]  of sea water. You seem to think it's a joke, but it's not. And to prove your ignorance here is a clip from  a Dive Magazine!

        What is Salt Water Aspiration?

        Salt water aspiration may occur when a diver or snorkeler inhales tiny droplets of salt water. Salt water may aspiration may "in some cases" also be the cause of  drownings. And since you don't believe me Google it yourself. 

        It's always better to check before making fun. Now "YOU" look like and Idiot!

        Have a nice day!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Condolences to his family.


    It would be interesting to have some statistics on the rise in deaths snorkeling and diving and then compare those stats to when the industry was operated mainly by Caymanians, you know the natives who have been playing, living and working in these waters. (Please, no need for the Canadians and Australians to start retaliating, let's look at the facts)

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes.. the facts. You are suggesting that Caymanians grow up in the water. Yes, some. The rest are all buying life jackets whenever there is a threat of hurricane because they can't swim. Do you seriously think people are dying while snorkeling (alone, no tour operator) because there are less Caymanian operators? Last I checked, Canadians and Australians also know how to work in water. Barking up the wrong tree Bobo

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cayman attracts many older tourists. They go do strenous things, and sometimes it's too much for them. It could happen to them anywhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tourism, RCIPTraffic Dept and Environment need to spend money on some safety signs with instructions to help these tourists and visitors! too many being lost here. Somebody is accountable. Too many drownings and car recks!

      • Anonymous says:

        The car wrecks are because people speed, tailgate badly and drive drunk. No sign is going to correct that. And as for the signs for snorkelling? What do you want them to say? "Warning: water a leading factor in drowning". 

  4. Anonymous says:

    As a regular visitor (30+ times over the last 15 years) who swims, snorkels, dives and fishes in your waters I would say to the apparently uninformed (or is it just ignorant) stop saying "watersport operators" should take the blame and pick up the tab every time there is a fatality.  Look at the facts and think before attributing responsibility.  In the latest incident the unfortunate victim was alive and talking with friends/family until the moment of his demise and there is no suggestion of water depth or current playing a part.  Yes if you swim out to the drop off depth may lead to raised stress levels in the inexperienced and fatigue play a part in those that are unfit or have underlying health issues, known or unknown.  May this have been the case in the recent incidents?

    Current and tidal effect around GC is minimal but wind and sea state, both of which can be felt/seen, may have significance so individuals should use their common sense.  I have dived, still do at 67, in many parts of the world and if you want current/tidal effect try the Maldives, for tide surge Hawaii, French Polynesia for them all and in the UK throw in cold and poor visibility as well.  Why is it that so many people feel that they and others don't need to take responsibility and use the common sense given to them at birth.  As I grew up I was taught to think for and look after myself, not to expect someone else to think for me and look after me.  Yes I still dive and snorkel but now restrict my activities to conditions that I know are within my capabilities which will unavoidably decrease each year with age.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The man met his Maker in a beautifu place.  Clearly he had a date with destiny.  Bless his soul and his family.  Part of the cycle of life.  If I had to choose.  Let me go heaven (hopefully)  in the beautiful waters of the Cayman Islands.. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    condolence to the family.

  7. pmilburn says:

    I just love how some people jump all over the dive industry when someone dies while snorkling.I have been in the dive business for 45+years and have seen people die while diving and from snorkling.Most of the cases were due to a heart attack or some other respitory problem.These things happen and while it looks bad in the newspaper or on TV a lot of these accidents are caused by people not being honest with the tour operator that they go out with when it comes to filling in a medical release for fear of not being allowed to dive/snorkle whatever the case might be.Please get your facts straight before jumping all over the watersports industry as this will continue to happen no matter what precautions we take.Cayman has one of the highest safety records in the world when it comes to diving.Check out Cozumel which if memory serves me correctly they lose far more each year than we do.Maybe its time to take another look at Life Guards being employed to keep an eye on the masses that enter the water all along 7 mile beach and we could train locals to do just that and it would help the situation BUT not eliminate it altogether.

    • Jonas Dwyer says:

      Hey Mr. Mil burn, one death is one too many huh!

      • pmilburn says:

        Yes I agree but these things will happen just like one too many killed on our roads.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fair comment except for the fact that Coz has more divers and often far more difficult conditions. You certainly don't get currents off any of the Cayman Islands (unless you venture out to 12-mile bank) like you do off Coz.

      • pmilburn says:

        appreciate your comments BUT we do have strong currents here on many dives but we avoid them by going to less currenty areas for safety reasons.

  8. Anonymous says:

    these ppl coming to Cayman should get a Doctors note allowing them to snorkel or scuba dive

    there is a lot of stress on the heart especially when doing watersport  activities

    that is the only way for forward is for visitors to provde a doctors note especially if they are over  a certain age

    too many of them dying

    • Anonymous says:

      You should be required to have a Doctor's note to be allowed to write a comment! How come are you allowed to have a computer? That is where the real danger comes from. My sincere condolences to the family. however i sure hope they are not reading all the nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just who would you show this note too when you go for a snorkel from a beach?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think anyone that writes such ignorant comments should  pay a levy to CNS.

    Also I think fast food restaurants should be made responsible for the unhelathy life style of its patrons as they are lured to eat there.

    Also anyone over the age of 50 should not be doing any activity as they are at risk. They should stay home and wait there for the time to pass in a safe environment

    Also water sports operators should be made responsible for any and all visitors or residents who enter our waters anywhere at any time while swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking or suntanning close to the high tide water mark.

    Also all water sport operators must have at the ready: a "personal life guard" for each person who wishes to enter the water,a Jet Ski with a trained operator, a rescue helicopter service and a medical facility on premises for any eventuality. The service should be 24/7 as I like to get in the water at different times.

    These services will helps us to perpetuate the sacred believe that anything that happens to me is someone elses responsibility.

    We should make sure we continue to teach our children that "responsibility" is what others owe us to protect us from any risk we might wish to take in life.

    Please, every effort must be made to avoid us taken personal responsibility for our actions.

    Commentators…keep up the good work!!!

  10. momma says:

    Adults should know full well when they enter the water, that it can be unpredictable and could "shift" at anytime.  When visiting Grand Cayman, I do snorkel, but also know of the risks.  These people could have an underlying health issue.  The amount of deaths vs. the amount of snorkellers/divers doesn't even come close to 1%.  This will happen.  Last year, the oceans in US claimed many lives. It happens and people choose to make that choice to enter the water.  It should not be any businesses fault when someone may die while on a trip.  Snorkelling alone is not a good idea, a buddy system is essential in cases like this.

    I agree that signs could be put up around Island, but that still isn't going to make people think about it.  In the states there is a flag system.  Flag is green, ok to swim – flag is orange, take caution, red – no swimming at all. I am not quite certain why these articles are posted, it causes a sense of insecurity for those that may be thinking of visiting to snorkel/dive.  Not a good idea on CNS' part. This article will not scare me, as I will get in the water if/when I return. We are born on a date, and we die on a date.  We will never know when or where it will happen.  This is life!

  11. Anonymous says:

    why arn't there public notices warning people about snorkling/swimming in the deep waters where there is a lot of current? Caymanians, for the most part, know enough about the water around us to know where and what is safe. We need to have more lierature/bochures warning visitors about the dangers of the water… is good lave but abad master!! 

    • Anonymous says:

      What has the depth of the water got to do with anything?

    • Anonymous says:

      What current? They were swimming and talking to each other just before the gentleman had a problem so there cannot have been any current.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The dive and watersports business should pay a levy to meet the full costs of all these accidents and deaths associated with them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Foreign diver companies/masters are not knowledgeable enough about the Cayman waters to do business here.

      • Older Diver says:

        At times like this our thoughts should simply be with the gentleman's family and friends but comments like this are so idiotic they need a response

        In the past I've dived with a couple of Caymanian owned and run operations (both now thankfully long gone) and to call them a joke is being unfair to jokes.

        I remember one dive where the local 'Divemaster' jumped off the boat and was 60' down before discovering that he only had 500psi in his tank. He then went back to the surface leaving his customers waiting on the bottom while he found a full one. On another the 'Divemaster' swam round for about 5 minutes but couldn't find the boat until I gave him the 'boat' sign and pointed straight up – we were right under it.


    • Anonymous says:

      And the airlines for bring them here…

      And the rental car companies or taxis for providing transport without which they wouldn't reach the shore snorkeling site…

      And the hotels who profit off housing them while they are here…

      And the restaurants who earn money by feeding them…


      And then let's add levys to pay the full cost of accidents and deaths for other things.

      Oh the charges we could levy related to road accidents and deaths could pay for all of government!  Car manufacturers, gas and oil companies, driving instructors, road paving companies, tyre manufacturers…  the list goes on and on.


    • Anonymous says:

      Based on the story as presented here, this man was not a paying customer of a watersports company. How do you hold the watersports companies responsible for someone who isn't even a customer? So bascially you are saying that all watersports companies should be held legally liable for something a grown adult chooses to do on their own time? You, my friend, don't know very much about duty of care. 

      Whatever happened to personal responsibility in this world? Everyone wants their personal rights and freedoms but when it comes to responsibility it's always the fault of someone else. Someone else should pay. Someone else should be blamed. Always someone else. If this person had collapsed while pushing a full cart of groceries in the supermarket would you now be claiming that all supermarkets should pay a levy to cover the medical costs of any customer who might overexert themselves while shopping?No, I didn't think so. 


  13. Anonymous says: