Warning after Cook Islands snorkelling death
Thu, 28 Jun 2012 5:12a.m.
The death of Christchurch honeymooner while snorkelling in the Cook Islands should be a warning for New Zealanders considering the same thing, a coroner says.
Graeme Parker, 37, was honeymooning with his new wife Huia Patuwai-Parker in the Cook Islands in 2009 when they took a snorkelling trip with Aitutaki's Bishop's Cruises.
The company is owned by Cook Islands MP Teina Bishop and his wife Annie.
Coroner Christopher Davenport, in his findings released this week, said there are no safety standards for snorkelling in the Cook Islands.
Mr Parker, a diabetic who weighed 137kg, was considered obese.
Despite having no snorkelling experience, their boat skipper, who had introduced himself as "Captain Awesome", told the couple they were in for an amazing experience.
The group of tourists were not asked about any medical conditions, given no instructions on fitting their breathing equipment, or told what to do if anything went wrong or shown any signals to give if they wanted to return to the boat.
During their swim Mr Parker and his wife they were trying to return to the boat when they realised they were in a current and Mr Parker was in trouble.
Fellow snorkellers eventually got him to the boat, but there was no medical equipment on board.
Despite another snorkeller being a doctor they were unable to save him.
A post-mortem revealed Mr Parker died from drowning and likely cardiac arrhythmia, with the physical effort of swimming and snorkelling contributing factors.
Mr Davenport said he could not make safety recommendations for anyone outside New Zealand, but his report could make New Zealanders aware of basic precautions they should take before swimming or snorkelling.
It would also be a comfort to know that similar standards to New Zealand's could be adopted in the Cook Islands, he said.
Mrs Bishop told NZ Newswire her husband was overseas and not available to comment on the coroner's report.
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28/06/2012 3:14:34 p.m.
Nicky Baxter wrote:
We have stayed in the Cook Islands several times including snorkeling off Aitutaki. We became aware on our first visit staying on the main island and talking to resort staff that there was little in the way of safety training for staff, and have always approached water activities with that in mind! Resort staff were not even trained in CPR and when a staff member collapsed in front of my husband on our first night it was he and another NZer who carried out CPR (sadly their efforts would not have saved the man).
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