Cruise visitor dies during dive trip

| 02/01/2010

(CNS): Updated Monday 4 January. Police have now said that the 52-year-old woman who passed away on Wednesday 30 December 2009, following a diving trip on Grand Cayman was Cindy Neilsen, of Sandy, Utah, USA. At about 3.55 in the afternoon the woman became unwell and lost consciousness during an organised dive in the north side of the island. Ms Neilsen’s husband who was accompanying her on the dive and staff from the operator, Resort Sports, undertook CPR and conveyed his wife to shore. She was immediately taken to George Town hospital where she was found to be dead on arrival.

Neilsen was said to be an experienced diver fand was a cruise ship passenger visiting the island with several members of her family. Police said that the enquiries into the death are ongoing. This is the ninth visitor to Cayman to have passed away in 2009 while in the water.

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  1. Law reform says:

    It is shocking that local law allows companies to exclude liability for negligence including serious injury and death.  As a matter of simple legal economics this greatly increases the moral hazard of inadequate protection for our visitors and locals alike.  Most countries don’t allow such exclusions either at all or with serious limitations (the UK for example legislated for this over 30 years ago).  A law to protect consumers would albeit indirectly probably lead to saved lives and less injuries to tourists – the English statute could be copied into a Cayman law with about 5 minutes drafting.

    • Anon says:

      This is true – in England you can exclude liability for almost anything except personal injury and death.

      • Uctapus says:

        You can only reasonably exclude liability in negligence for other losses in consumer or standard form coontracts.  It is true that the injur and death provisions are a total bar.

  2. Mozzie Fodder says:

    What a defeatist attitude. You could always do some research, make the FOI request and then act on your findings. Pretty sure a quick internet search would help you. Without even looking myself you could start with PADI and then the Cayman Islands Coronors office.

    If you care enough about this issue, you will find the info you need….or will you just continue to hope that someone else will do it so you can continue to commentate from your armchair?

    • Anon says:

      I have no interest in diving, I know nothing about the operative aspects of diving.   How come this suddenly becomes my responsbility for just making an observation from what I read in the news and asking, when there supposedly should be some kind of body in place who already takes responsibility for these aspects?  I am very surprised at some of your responses in this regard.  So a member of the public who makes an observation now has to take on responsibility of investigating the concern they voiced?  Jeez… no wonder people would rather keep their mouths shut here.

      Who is going to listen to this non-resident ex pat who knows absolutely nothing about the industry when she makes her findings in any event?  Do I have an MP I can go to?  Should I go to the Police?  Should I direct my findings to the local dive operators (who in my view should be taking on responsibility for their own operations, not me) – will anybody listen?  On the contrary newspapers (who show an interest in current affairs rather than condemn someone for making a comment) can easily make the FOI request, can easily access the information, and can easily raise public awareness on such issues, not to mention in doing so expose bad practice in the dive business thus encouraging the operators to take more responsibility.

      But having said that and having conducted some research, it seems I am not alone with my concerns:

      2006: 10 people died in the Cayman Islands after incidents involving snorkelling or diving, according to statistics released by the RCIPS;

      2007:  5 divers died during the first four months of the year.

      2008:  In 2008, RCIPS reported 9 watersports related deaths; 6 were divers, including one helmet diver with Sea Trek, one was a snorkeler, one a swimmer and one watersports death occurred during a fishing trip.

      2009:  In the first nine months of 2009, there were seven watersports related deaths. Two divers have died, as well as two snorkelers and two swimmers. The seventh death this year was due to another fishing accident.  I can’t find any RCIPS figures as yet but on searching CNS I have come across 7 articles relating to diving deaths during the course of 2009.

      2010:  1 death aleady.

      I also came across this interesting quote which seems to confirm my concerns:



      CNS: Congratulations, Anon! You have anticipated the next development of CNS, which will be a section for ‘citizen journalists’ where people can post information they uncover, including FOI responses – but more on that later.

      I have deleted the reference you found since the article does not cite the source it used itself for that aside (the Compass is cited for the coroner’s reports), it is not a direct quote and the article does not explain how it came to that conclusion. Without talking to the individual himself, I don’t know whether this is in fact his view or whether he has been maligned. The internet is a wonderful resource but should be used with caution.

      Check the last sentence of this article for 2009 figures.

      • Anon says:

        Thanks CNS yes I did – none in 2010 – that was my mistake as the news report was 2010 but the person actually died at the end of December taking the 2009 figure of reported deaths on CNS to 8 – thank you 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        I can remember when diving was dangerous and sex was safe but now diving is safe and sex is dangerous yet we have more people concerned about diving deaths that people dying of sex related illnesses.

        • Anon says:

          Perhaps because diving is the news topic being discussed here and not sex?

           Perhaps you would like to make a FOI request about how many people have died of sex related illnesses per year here.  Then CNS can post an article and you will have your day – we can all discuss your FOI findings here.

  3. i don't have all the answers, but.... says:

    Wow, how interesting that none of the posters on this site can be bothered about a dead expat. Interesting… and yet, a shot expat (even a Jamaican) ? or god forbid, a male expat kissing another male expat? All hell breaks loose on here. What a pathetic indictment on the noisy, xenophobic, protectionst ill-educated dopes who spend most of their time on here spouting off, but doing sod all… tragic.


    To this poor lady’s family, sincere condolences and may 2010 be as bearable as possible for you. Please know that there ARE people here who care about your tragedy. She may actually be luckier than many of us who remain.

  4. Anon says:

    Is it me or do we seem to have a heck of a lot of tourist die on diving trips here? 

    I wonder, does anyone have the statistics over the years on this?  It seems to me that we get reports of this all the time and yet nobody seems really bothered to look into whether there’s something wrong that we could put right.

    CNS: Freedom of Information is open to all. Perhaps you should stop complaining that no one is doing this and …. do it.

    • Anon says:

      But CNS I have little to no knowledge of dive ops or who they are governed or monitored.  It was not so much a complaint as an observation as if I was in the dive op business I would be concerned about all these visitor deaths.  I am surprised at your response.  Even if I made the FOI request myself to satisfy what was just a question out of curiosity/concern, what would I be able to do about it to make a change when I know nothing about the business in any event?

      • Anonymous says:

        Re 10.58

        I had the same thought about the number of death’s related to diving here.

        I would have throught there would be an interest to the newspapers (and maybe they are working on this right now) looking at the number of deaths here in the Cayman Islands compared to other comparable diving centres. You never know there may be lessons to be learned by our dive centres.

        My thoughts do go out the the family of this lady and all the other families caught up in this type of incident.   

        • EastSider says:

          I really think they need to check out whether the people going on dives are  capable.  Yes, they might have their qualification but how long since some of them actually went on a dive.  I don’t think a lot of them have the experience necessary to go on these open water dives and some may be physically unfit.  I think more could be done to ensure the safety of the tourists who undertake diving.

        • Anon says:

          Hence my amazement when CNS responded to my initial posting with this comment: "Perhaps you should stop complaining that no one is doing this and …. do it."

          …and I wasn’t even complaining about anything!

          • Fox says:

            But CNS is right. You think there are too many diving realted deaths on the island? Go and find out why! You don’t know anything about dive ops? Go and learn what you can. Go and investigate.

            Who do you expect to investigate? Someone has to start, someone as to get out of his comfort zone and start the process. This would be the solution for many problems.

      • Che says:

        CNS sorry to say but I also agree with Anon on this one…they are too many tourist that is dying here from diving related deaths here in Cayman.  The police need to look more into these serious matters.   All you can here them say is no foul play involved.  What they need to do is to review these cases again and peform a second atopsy on each and everyone of them to make sure.  Anon your not the only one that  is seeing what I’m seeing here…the rest of these Caymanians need to wake up!

        • frank rizzo says:

          "A lot" and "too many" are a bit too subjective for an analytical thinker like me. While one death may be too many for some, we really have to examine how Cayman compares to other diving destinations in terms of mishaps. Diving is an inherently dangerous activity and before reaching a conclusion that something is wrong here let’s get an accurate picture.

          • Anon says:

            Agreed but its a difficult subject on which to get an accurate picture from research so far.  Considering there is apparently a substantial number of scuba divers, the rate of annual scuba deaths is apparently low. However, it must be stated that these are estimates (or guesstimates) only. No one knows how many scuba divers there are in the world (another question) or how many accidents and/or scuba deaths go unreported.

            The American Academy of Family Physicians in a report (dated June 2001 so it’s a bit out of date) stated that there are an average of 90 scuba deaths reported each year worldwide. It did not state where the information on the number of annual scuba deaths came from.  In another report Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) reported an average of 90 scuba diving deaths per year since 1980.  DAN does publish an annual report entitled Report on Decompression Illness, Diving Fatalities and Project Dive Exploration.

            Based on the information above, most research I have read points to annual scuba deaths in the region of 90-100 people per year range…. worldwide.