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‘No one understands what could have happened'

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For the devastated sister of medic Donald Tucker, the discovery of her brother's body has raised more questions than answers.

According to Nicole Harrison, who helped comb the Castle Harbour shoreline after Mr Tucker was reported missing on Sunday, her brother, who had just turned 41, was a strong and capable swimmer.

However, following an extensive search, it was Mr Tucker's best friend who spotted his lifeless body in the waters off Cooper's Island, close to where the two had entered the water to go spear fishing.

An autopsy is expected today, Mrs Harrison told

The Royal Gazette, adding: “No one understands what could have happened.”

Mr Tucker's friend, whom she did not name, made the grim discovery yesterday morning, after diving into the water while others searched the shore.

Said Mrs Harrison, still coping with the loss of her husband Stephen to drowning three years ago: “He was submerged. His friend swam over him and saw his orange fishing glove. That alerted him and he dove down, and that's where he was.”

She added: “He was found right close to where they had gone in the water. He was at the bottom of the ocean with his spear next to him. Divers had to go and get him.”

The Hamilton resident had no children. Mrs Harrison named her brother's girlfriend as Ella Mills, and said he was the devoted owner of an Amazon parrot, Tucker.

The family had been out until 3am the night before, searching the shore with flashlights.

“We thought we would come back at first light,” Mrs Harrison said. “There were police boats around and other boats. Donald's friend just decided to jump into the water, and found him in about 20 minutes of going in.”

This afternoon, a Police spokesman said: "The Bermuda Police Service can confirm that the initial autopsy results regarding the sudden death of 41 year old Donald Tucker, suggest that Mr Tucker died of natural causes.

"The deceased's family has been made aware of the findings via their appointed Family Liaison Officer. Inquiries into this matter are ongoing."

A fan of the latest electronic gadgets and a keen traveller, Mr Tucker “grew up boating and being on the water”, she said.

The son of Edward and Lona, Mr Tucker is survived by siblings Geoffrey, Lovaine, Joshua and LaToya.

He attended Paget Primary, followed by Sandys Secondary School, and was training to be a massage therapist when he found his calling.

Mrs Harrison said: “First and foremost, he chose his profession because he loved people and helping people. That was his passion. The patients he helped just loved my brother.”

She described her brother as someone whose smile “felt like you were getting a hug”. Family and coworkers gathered yesterday at the King Edward VII Memorial, where Mr Tucker started out as a volunteer before becoming an orderly, and finally qualifying as an EMT in 1998.

Mr Tucker's close friend was yesterday described as too devastated to speak.

Describing Sunday's events, Mrs Harrison said: “Between 12pm and 1pm, they went in the water. His friend looked back and didn't see him. He swam around looking, and swam around Nonsuch Island, then went back to land. They had been swimming close to shore. There didn't appear to be any current; it was a beautiful day. He knew time was ticking and eventually he went to the police.”

News spread quickly thereafter, she said.

“I called my brother's phone and his friend answered. They were searching. The police search had been called off for the night.”

Returning at daybreak, she said: “We went up and down the coast, all along the water's edge. We searched and searched, hoping perhaps that he had just been injured or had been washed ashore. Marine Police already had someone on shore over at Nonsuch Island. The police had the water covered. We were checking every nook and cranny along the coast.”

The EMT was hailed as “professional, caring and positive” by King Edward VII Memorial Hospital director of emergency services Dr Edward Schultz.

“He was always a true gentleman who put his patients first, was a real team player, and worked tirelessly to increase his EMT knowledge and skills for the benefit of this community,” Dr Schultz said.

“Mr Tucker was loved by absolutely everyone in the Emergency Department patients and staff alike. His tragic and untimely death is a monumental loss for the EMT and ambulance service at KEMH as well as his family.

“It is almost incomprehensible to think of the service going forward without Mr Tucker's incredible smile, gentle nature, and soft-spoken words of encouragement for both patients and co-workers. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Long-standing friend and cousin by marriage Lejoy Robinson Daniels recalled Mr Tucker as “a very lovable guy with the biggest smile that you would never forget”.

She said she had last seen him on Valentine's Day, as he attended an EMT call on Reis Street.

“It was brief, as he was on call, but he still hailed me as usual and went on with his duties,” she said. “He was in the right profession because he was so caring and loving.”

Police have asked that anyone who might have seen Mr Tucker on Sunday to contact Sergeant Terrance Smith at Southside Police Station on 293-2222, or Sergeant Edward Peach at the Marine Police Unit on 295-0011.

Well-liked: EMT Donald Tucker
Grief: Friends and family of Donald Tucker mourn on the shore line of Cooper?s Island as police pull the EMT?s body from the waters just off Nonsuch Island yesterday morning
Police divers go into the waters just off Cooper?s Island to pull up the body of Donald Tucker yesterday morning
Well-liked: EMT Donald Tucker

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Published March 20, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2012 at 9:52 am)

‘No one understands what could have happened'

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