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June 2007    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 33, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Deaths in the Caymans

from the June, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Cayman Island diving has gotten off to a bad start in 2007, with five dead divers in just four months. Two of them were staying at Little Cayman Beach Resort and diving with Reef Divers. Itís a sharp contrast to 2006, when only three dive-related deaths happened during the entire year.

The first fatality on January 24 involved a 54-year-old man diving near Sunset House. Two divers died within a week of each other Ė a 71-year-old male diver at East End on March 4 and a 57-year-old male diver in Smithís Cove on March 11.

The two Little Cayman Beach Resort divers were both at Bloody Bay Wall when they went missing in separate incidents. On February 11, Heidi Theresa Carson, 43, disappeared during a dive, but police found nothing to indicate foul play and suspect it was a suicide. On April 15, a 59-yearold male was reported missing after he failed to return to the dive boat. At the start of the dive at 20 feet, the man, an experienced diver, indicated to his buddy that he was having ear problems and was going back to the boat but never emerged. Search teams looked for both divers but found no trace, and they are presumed dead.

With dive-related deaths worldwide going into triple digits every year, the chance that two of them will happen at the same resort is perhaps one in millions, especially in such a short period. Nicholas Wilson, manager of Little Cayman Beach Resort, told Undercurrent itís a fluke. ďIt wasnít a matter of safety regulations; we have state-of-the-art equipment with underwater recall devices, defibrillators onboard, experienced divemasters, the works. It was just a case of two unfortunate incidents happening in a short period of time. That hasnít happened in Little Cayman in a long time.Ē After the deaths in March, one dive operator told the Cayman Net News that singling out specific incidents was unfair and that most of the deaths were probably due to preexisting conditions rather than the activity itself. After reviewing the 2006 fatalities, dive operators said last January that they were generally satisfied with the Caymansí safety standards and that the comparatively small number of deaths was a fact of life.

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