One drowns in snorkeling tragedy at Hol Chan

The San Pedro Police Department has reported a drowning incident that occurred on Monday, February 1st at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. According to the report, Jeff Bartl 58-year-old American National from Minnesota, USA, was snorkeling within the Reserve, when he drowned. Bartl was transported to San Pedro Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 10AM. Even though a postmortem examination is to take place at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, heart attack has been unofficially ruled as the main cause of death.

According to an official police report, Bartl along with his brother 61-year-old Clay Bartl and four other persons went on a snorkeling trip shortly after 9AM with San Pedro based company, Ambergris Divers. Tour guide, Alfredo Trejo, recounts that when they arrived to Hol Chan around 9:30AM, everything was going well and the group proceeded to get into the water. 15 minutes later, they noticed Bartl floating on the water face down. With the help of the park rangers they put him back on the boat where CPR was applied to him, but he remained motionless and unresponsive. He was then rushed to the Polyclinic where Dr. Renae Sersland pronounced him dead upon arrival. No signs of injury were observed on the body, and foul play was ruled out.

The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has since issued a statement regarding the incident. “The Belize Tourism Board recently received confirmation from the Hol Chan Marine Reserve Office, on the death of a male tourist who was on a snorkeling tour at the reserve… We are currently in contact with the relevant authorities in gathering all the details surrounding this unfortunate incident. As soon as information becomes available, we will be communicating further,” stated BTB.

Police are now investigating whether proper protocol and regulations were followed by the tour company prior and throughout the snorkeling trip.

San Pedro Sun