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#434763 - 04/03/12 06:20 PM Snorkeling Accident  
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 259
MikeD Offline
MikeD  Offline
From the San Pedro Sun:

Seven tourists left Caye Caulker on the morning of April 3rd to experience Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, one of Belize’s top destinations for snorkelers and divers alike. Trusting tour operators from Tsunami Tours to provide this memorable experience in Belize’s waters, two deaths were the last thing on their minds.
According to Dr. Noeli Nicholson, around 12:40pm, five tourists arrived at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II accompanied by a Hol Chan Marine Ranger. They appeared to have received multiple scratches and were visibly shaken.
Further investigations revealed that the tourists left for Hol Chan with Caye Caulker based Tsunami Tours, which is owned by longtime Caye Caulker resident and Canadian national Heather Martin. They mentioned that the tour guide kept taking them into the channel at Hol Chan and they started to get separated because of the strength of the waves that were pushing them into the reef. Dr. Nicholson informed The San Pedro Sun that the husband stated that he and his wife became separated from the group around 11:30am.
Around 1:45pm, a private boat CC-0021, arrived with the female casualty at the dock in front of BC’s. Dr. Nicholson was called to pronounce the death of the woman, whose name is being withheld. Around 2:45pm a second (unidentified) body was brought in by the Hol Chan Marine Reserve boat. The body was taken to the PolyClinic.
The survivors were also taken to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez PolyClinic II and treated for multiple abrasions and bruises which were sustained from the reef. The husband of the first casualty is currently under observation as he suffers from a heart condition. The tour guide was detained by police where a statement was issued. The investigation continues into this case. The San Pedro Sun will keep you updated as information becomes available.

#434768 - 04/03/12 07:16 PM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1,520
Bear Offline
Bear  Offline
Oh no...this is really horrible.

Having read the forecast and seen Elbert's picture and summation this morning I just figured tours to the HC cut would be cancelled due to wind and surf conditions. Apparently not, and perhaps conditions as they appeared from Caye Caulker did not seem to warrent a cancellation. Regardless of inquest findings perhaps this will provide some impetus to develop a "red flag" warning program and take decisions of water safety out of the hands of the tour operators and guides. Similar to beach closures for undertow this would prelude tours entering the water until such times as hazardous conditons abate. I'm less interested in finding fault and more interested in having proper and practical safety precautions in place. My heartfelt sympathy to all involved. Its simply a tragic.

#434773 - 04/03/12 08:35 PM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 48
catfish Offline
catfish  Offline
This is a horrible tragedy and should be a huge wake up call for something that should have been implimented years ago. The current at Hol Chan has always been a challenge especially during outgoing tides. I was a dive instructor here for 15 years and dealt with this on a weekly basis. When the current is outgoing and strong a plan has to be made before entering the water. This includes evaluating the guest that you are exposing to these conditions. There is a point during outgoing currents where swimming far into the channel is at best risky. I have always thought that it should be displayed by the "rangers" when the tide is outgoing and how strong it is (maybe some kind of grading system). When the current is medium to strong there should be enforced warnings as to how far groups can venture into the channel. Different colored buoys for example. If the rangers are flying a yellow flag then you shouldn't go beyond the yellow buoy. I hate policing but apparently it's time to start making decisions for people so tragedies like this can be avoided. This is mostly about tides and operators can start planning their dive/snorkel trips accordingly - I alway did. Let's do something with the park fees to keep this kind of horrible occurrence for happening again. There are many ocean current meters on the market and some at very realistic prices. My deep condolences to the families of those that perished.

#434775 - 04/03/12 09:14 PM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,435
Cooper Offline
Cooper  Offline
Red Flag warning would be a great plan.

#434783 - 04/04/12 07:07 AM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,640
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Tourists Drown

It was a tour guide's nightmare today at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve - after two tourists - an American and an Italian National - drowned while snorkeling in the reserve.

Sometime between 2:30 and 3 this afternoon, San Pedro police received a distress call from a group of tourists who were snorkeling in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

When police responded with a vessel belonging to the reserve they rescued 5 of the tourists out at sea. They were 54 year old Rebecca Burger, her son 17 year old Zack Burger, American Nationals, 59 year old David Florencia an Italian and 2 Canadian citizens 25 year old Laurence Tastet and 29 year old Yanik Doyon.

Police later discovered the bodies of 54 year old American National Roger Burger and an Italian national Zayihe Florencia. From what we understand the group of 7 was visiting Caye Caulker and this morning went out on a snorkelling trip with Tsunami Adventure Tours.

While out at sea, Burger and Florencia got carried away by the huge waves and drowned. So far police are still questioning the boat captain. The bodies of Burger and Florencia were brought into Belize City and are presently at the KHMH morgue awaiting a post mortem.

Channel 7

#434788 - 04/04/12 07:41 AM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,640
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Tourists die during snorkeling trip to Hol Chan

There is tragic news tonight out of the island of Caye Caulker where a snorkeling trip ended terribly for two visitors. A group of seven men and women, vacationing in Belize, set out on an expedition, in a vessel named Cyclone led by Tsunami Tours of Caye Caulker this morning. As they snorkeled near the channel, the group became separated when strong waves began drifting them farther out to the reef. Five of them were later rescued by coastguard personnel dispatched to the area; however, American national Roger Burgess and Zyihe Florencia believed to be of Italian nationality, were not as fortunate. The bodies of the two tourists were recovered near the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, off the coast of Ambergris Caye shortly after midday today. The survivors arrived before one o’clock at the San Pedro Polyclinic along with a ranger stationed at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Several hours later, the bodies were taken by a private charter to San Pedro Town where they were pronounced dead on arrival. This afternoon they were transferred by skiff to Belize City by the San Pedro police News Five spoke with Corporal Sharmane Young who is heading the investigation.


Sharmane Young, Corporal, Tourism Police Unit

“About twelve midday I received a call from the Tourism Police officer who was conducting patrol along with the Hol Chan personnel at the Hol Chan [Marine Reserve] where they stated that they had a total of five persons at sea, you know, apparently they were about to drown over at the blue. As a result of that, the information received was that it was a total of seven persons who went snorkeling with Tsunami’s Tours and of that seven we have five rescued and we have two [who] passed away.”


Isani Cayetano

Sharmane Young

“In terms of the operation that is being conducted who is leading this mission?”


Sharmane Young

“Myself, as the person in charge of the Tourism Police [Unit] for Caye Caulker and San Pedro, and working along with the officer in charge of San Pedro; it’s going to be both of us working along on this investigation.”


Isani Cayetano

“Okay, my understanding is that a coastguard team was also dispatched to the area.”


Sharmane Young

“Yes, that’s true. We have contacted the officer in charge of the coastguard who has assisted us and both bodies, the first body was recovered at 12:30 and the other one was recovered [sometime later]. The first body that was recovered was a female French national and the other person was an American national by the name of Roger Burgess.”

Isani Cayetano

“What is the preliminary investigation saying at this point? Was it mechanical failure of some sort, equipment failure? What were the rescued tourists saying?”


Sharmane Young

“No. What happened is that these people were already in the water snorkeling at Hol Chan and apparently the current, they were swimming to the blue and the current was too strong and they started drifting away.”


The five surviving visitors have been identified as American nationals fifty-five year old Rebecca Burger and seventeen year old Zach Burger, Canadian nationals twenty-five old Lawrence Tastet and twenty- year-old Yanik Doyon and Italian national fifty-nine year old David Florencia.

Channel 5

#434795 - 04/04/12 08:16 AM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,640
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Tourists Drown as 7 Dragged by Strong Currents at Marine Reserve

Tragedy strikes a group of tourists while vacationing in Belize as seven of them are dragged by the strong currents at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, off the island of Ambergris Caye, leaving two dead on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

Five of the seven tourists were rescued after seven of them were dragged out into the channel and into open waters at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. They were on a snorkeling day tour on board Caye Caulker’s Cyclone vessel of Tsunami Tours when the incident took place at around midday.

Shortly after the five people were rescued the body of a woman was retrieved from the water and taken to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez Poly Clinic where she was confirmed dead on arrival. According to bystanders, the woman was being given CPR at the dock when they arrived to the island, a visiting doctor tried to render assistance but police did not allow him to do so.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the Ambergris Today

#434823 - 04/04/12 11:34 AM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,441
ScubaLdy Offline
ScubaLdy  Offline
Where were the tour guide and boat captain while all this was going on?

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
#434828 - 04/04/12 12:14 PM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 990 Offline  Offline
Very sad thing to happen. I really feel bad for the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.

Caribbean Colors Art Gallery, Caye Caulker
#434834 - 04/04/12 01:01 PM Re: Snorkeling Accident [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,640
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
Miguel Alamilla, manager at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, who was at Shark Ray Alley at the time spoke with The San Pedro Sun and recapped his experience.

“I received a call from the rangers that an incident had been reported. The report was that four individuals (in fact it was seven) went missing during a snorkeling tour in the Hol Chan area. So we responded to that. Once at the site we discovered that three of the snorkelers had made it back to the boat while the boat captain/tour guide had remained to search for the four that had drifted. We managed to pick up the guide, Marcel Graniel who was close to the reef crest. This was after 12pm. I think this incident happened around 11:45am. He told us that there were four people stranded. We were trying to locate the people. Several hundred meters south of where we picked up the tour guide, we spotted two individuals. By the time we got to them, the waves had pushed the gentleman inside the reef. There was a lady still outside the reef in a very panicked state. I took the man’s snorkel gear and I jumped in, swam out and brought her in. She was in an extreme panicked state. When we pulled them in, the man and the lady, they told us that the others were dead. The gentleman, he had his wife’s wedding ring on his hand. We put them in another patrol boat and we sent them to the PolyClinic. There were two still missing. We decided to send all five to the PolyClinic to receive medical attention.”

More information in the UPDATE in the San Pedro Sun CLICK HERE

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