Tourist, 60, drowns while snorkeling off St. John
Published: January 15, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - V.I. medical authorities are investigating the death of a tourist who was snorkeling off St. John on Sunday.
Virgin Islands National Park Acting Superintendent Mike Anderson said Monday that a 60-year-old man from Enola, Penn., died while snorkeling around Waterlemon Cay inside the National Park on St. John.
Anderson said the Park Service would not release the victim's name until additional family members had been notified.
The victim started snorkeling with his wife Sunday morning, but after a while, his wife returned to shore and was watching her husband through a pair of binoculars, Anderson said. She lost sight of her husband and, about two hours after last seeing him, notified the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard searched from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and put a helicopter on standby to assist in the search, according to Anderson. Coast Guard officials deferred comment on the case to the Park Service.
St. John Rescue and the Park Service also participated in the search and found the victim unresponsive and face-down in some shallow water about 1:30 p.m., according to Anderson. Paramedics administered CPR but could not revive the victim.
He was declared deceased at 2:13 p.m., Anderson said.
Anderson said the exact cause of death remained unknown as of Monday. No witnesses saw the victim struggling or call for help, so determining the cause of death will rely on a pending autopsy report by the medical examiner on St. Thomas, he said.
Anderson said snorkelers should take care to use the buddy system to prevent incidents like this.
"Certainly, snorkeling alone is never advisable," he said.
He recommended snorkeling with at least one other person so that one can assist the other - or at least help find assistance for the other person - should something go wrong.
"There is at least a greater likelihood they can call for help and survive something like this," Anderson said. "Snorkeling alone is never a good idea."
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.