Elderly diver loses life on Brac’s Double Wall

| 08/07/2013

(CNS) Updated: A US national who was visiting Cayman Brac died during a dive on Sunday afternoon, the authorities have confirmed. The RCIPS said that emergency services received a report that the 80-year-old man was seen in the water by a crew from a nearby boat yesterday (7 July). William Lemuel Lawson, from Florida, was found floating while diving with a group at the dive site Double Wall, which is situated northwest of Cayman Brac. At about 3:20pm, he was seen floating by a member of the crew, who alerted other divers. He was removed from the water and taken on a diving boat, where he was given CPR and other first aid.

He was then transported to Brac Reef Dock, where further CPR was given by medical personnel. The diver was then taken to the Faith Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The matter is under investigation by the Cayman Brac police but no foul play is suspected.

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  1. Bert says:

    I had a the pleasure of working with this diver in a dive shop for over six years and he was one of the most active divers, of any age, that I know who are not instructors.  He swam over one hour per day and ate an extrememly healthy diet. I would ask that people with hold judgement on this terrible incident until all the facts are known.  My heart is broken for the friends he loved to dive with and now leaves behind. God's speed my friend.

  2. Anonymous says:

    my condolence to tne family ,this man died doing something he loved , i am sure it was not his first dive , i love to fish and hope that i can until i am 80 or beyond , and that is how i would like to die fighting a big fish. not many people die doing what they love think about it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree with most of you I'm 59 . I want to dive until I feel that I can't . I also want  to drink and smoke cigars also. So could the rest of you stop making stupid laws and stop competing with USA to create new laws .Just because they have a law for everything , we don't need them also.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A sad end to what was obviously a very full life. I pulled the plug on my scuba diving when I turned 61, not due to any health issues but because I didn't think it was fair to the diving professionals in the industry to risk having one of my dives ending up like this. I think once you get beyond 60 there is a serious need to consider whether the PADI waivers and medical delarations are enough or if there is, as some other popular dive destinations require, the need for a mandatory medical examination certifying fitness to dive. You only need to read some of the recent inquest verdicts on scuba or snorkeling deaths in the Cayman Islands to realise that there is a very real age-related issue here.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Although my dad does Not dive, he is 81. I have just recently started taking him to the caribbean with me on my yearly trips. I think these have been the happiest trips he has ever taken in his life. We have been to Negril and Aruba. Our next trip we are thinking about is to Cayman. He gets into the water and spends all day floating around with his floppy beach hat on his head. When he is there floating, he has this huge smile on his face that just never disappears all day. At night, he sits on the balcony and watches the iguanas, the flowers, palm trees and the sunsets.  When he returns back home, he talks about the island and the people all year. He still walks around saying "no problem, mon" and that was 3 years ago. Silly for an 81 year old, right? 🙂

      I guess what I am getting at is if he happened to die while floating in the caribbean sea on one of our trips….I would be so at peace and I know he would be, too. When I read about these people that pass on while diving, I say a prayer, and hope their family has memories like I have of my dad and I  on our few trips to the caribbean and will forever see their loved one floating with that huge smile on their face with that floppy beach hat and I hope that I have a few more trips to the caribbean with my dad…..


  5. Anonymous says:

    A note to 8:19, elderly people die getting out of bed.  Elderly people die all types of ways.  I cannot figure out how you would define the age at which people cannot do things.  Kind of sounds like the "big brother" syndrome you are advocating.  And be sure to tell Buzz Aldrin (who is 83) that he cannot dive here, although he has walked on the moon, and is in probably better health than most people 1/2 his age. 

    Instead of trying to create another meaningless regulation, quit saying stupid things like "there clearly needs to be an age-limit put in place in regards to diving," why don't you pass along your condolences to his family and friends for losing a loved one?  Dying at the age of 80 doing something he obviously loved doing (must be the case as he was doing it) is not a bad way to go.  The life expectancy of an American male is 76, so he has lived for the cycle.

    Find something else to regulate, as the dive industry does not need your help.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can we please knock off this 'died doing something he loved' nonsense. Having seen first hand the traumatic impact on everyone concerned of a diving fatality (and the lengthy aftermath leading up to the inquest) I would prefer to pass away quietly in my own bed. I think the fairest way to honour this gentleman's memory (and that of the others who have died this year) is for the dive operators to use it as grounds for a review of health issues, not with a view to imposing any restrictions but simply to see if there is any way to minimise risks in future.  

      • Anonymous says:

        You may prefer to die quietly in your own bed, but man, I prefer dying doing what I loved doing and hopes that small inconvenience will be forgiven.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Why not just have an age limit on people even coming to the Cayman Islands? Studies show that the vast majority of diving fatalities involve a heart attack. This man could just as easily had a heart attack on a dance floor or golfing. Do we limit those activites based on age too?What age should be used to determine who is allowed to dive and who isn't? People can have a heart attack at a young age. How about 40? 50? What age is too old? 

    In a free society people should be able to make their own informed personal choices about what activities they want to do without some government body interfering. I get the impression from the previous poster that it would be preferable to not have old people dying in Cayman while on vacation. This doesn't seem like a reasonable expectation. 

    I am not under the impression that diving deaths due to old age is a significant problem here in the Cayman Islands. Telling older people that they are not allowed to live life actively anymore because it might be inconvenient for us in the Cayman Islands should they die while here on vacation seems kinda dumb. 

    Also, in terms of priorities.. perhaps more attention should be paid to how people drive in this country rather than how old divers are. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    It would be interesting to compare the safety of Cayman diving in micromorts and the equivalent in the USA.  The death rate in Cayman from water sports is truly shocking.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sad news.    80 seems a tad old to be diving, however it was his choice;  I'm fairly certain that all dive operations on the Brac vet the skills and relative health of divers prior to accepting them on the dive boats.    Dive operators I'm aware of on the Brac are very safety conscious and utilise proper procedures.    I hope he had a full life.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Bill was a very experienced diver and in good health.  He loved to dive and has been a diver for many, many years.  What better way is there to leave this earth than by doing something that we truly love?

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for that;   You encompass the feeling I was striving for in my post.   There is no better way to die than doing something you love.   I'm sure he didn't intend to die, but surely was aware of the increasing probability of doing so when diving.    I didn't meet Bill and didn't know him, but would guess that he wouldn't want his passing to reflect poorly on the dive operation or divemasters that allowed him to dive with them.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    There clearly needs to be an age-limit put in place in regards to diving – to avoid all these excessive elderly people dying in our waters.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe we should put an intelligence limit on the people who write on here – to avoid all these excessive unintelligent people writing on our CNS. 🙂