Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cenote diving accident claims Canadian scuba diver in Tulum, Mexico

In less than 10 months popular Riviera Maya sinkholes have claimed four lives

This YouTube video of Cenote Kalimba clearly illustrates the lateral positioning of oxygen tanks*

(First published on MGRR's main page Feb. 12, 2013)
*Updated Feb. 18 - victim's identify confirmed*
Tulum, Quintana Roo -
A Canadian man died here yesterday while scuba diving in Cenote Kalimba.

He was identified as 52 year old Bernaid Rieds. No hometown was listed by Spanish press sources.

The Yucatán peninsula is world-famous for its cenotes (see-note-ees) - water-filled sinkholes or pits. They're a part of the natural landscape, and a major tourist attraction. But they are not without risks.

Last April three people died while diving Cenote Chac Mool, near Playa del Carmen. The victims were a Brazilian husband and wife team and their Spanish guide, who was a certified master diver. They may have gotten lost in the cenote and run out of oxygen. A local paper called it a case bordering on "criminal negligence." Divers drown at Playa del Carmen cenote.

Sources say that Rieds was a "professional diver." He arrived at the cenote about 11:00 a.m., alone, and registered. Personnel said the cenote is for expert divers. They described it as a small, difficult-to-navigate cave, with very confined spaces.

Rieds was carrying two oxygen tanks, one a reserve. When he didn't surface by the time cenote staff expected him to, they asked other divers to check for him. A search was launched, and about an hour later Rieds' body was discovered within 700 meters of the exit point. Both tanks were empty.

The cause of death was initially listed as drowning. Postmortem examination results have not yet been released.

A diver told the local press that Rieds should have descended into the cenote with the oxygen tanks positioned laterally, on each side of his body, rather than on his back, which is the traditional manner. Such a practice enables a diver to make tight turns and navigate narrow routes more easily, he said. A photo of Rieds' body taken after it was recovered suggests that he followed the correct procedure, complicating the question of just what happened to him.

Rieds was found about 3:30 p.m. State law enforcement authorities took custody of his remains. The Quintana Roo prosecutor is investigating the case.

‡ Note: MGRR has been unable to verify the identity of the victim, or obtain any other information about him. Spanish press accounts are notorious for misspelling or transposing persons' names, especially when foreigners are involved. Further information will be posted as it becomes available.

7:00 p.m. A reader (comment below) has identified yesterday's victim as Bernard Reid of Montreal. MGRR appreciates the information and will post other details which readers may be able to share, or which appear of public record as this story develops.

10:00 p.m. A different identification (below) has been offered by a reader: Bernard Reeves, Montreal.

Thursday, Feb. 14
4:30 p.m. The victim's brother has confirmed that he was indeed Bernard Reeves, 48, of Montreal. See comments below.

Feb. 18 - A brief obituary published two days ago by The Montreal Gazette is available here. There are no further local press reports concerning this accident, nor has the Quintana Roo state prosecutor issued a statement on its investigation - if any is pending. Mr. Reeves' Facebook profile indicates he was a commercial pilot, employed by Thunder Airlines. Thunder's promotional literature describes it as "a Canadian scheduled flight, charter and Medevac airline based in Thunder Bay, Ontario."

Dec. 4, 2011 - Canadians found dead on Progreso beach after drowning

*© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission. Sole ownership of rights to the video clip may be found by clicking the "i" in upper right hand of video. MGRR claims no rights to the clip, and posts it here solely to illustrate a material issue discussed in this story, not for any commercial purpose.

A typical Yucatán cenote. Hundreds are scattered across the peninsula.

1 comment:

  1. its not oxygen tanks, they are compressed air or nitrox contents...