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Man who died while snorkelling is named

The man who died while snorkelling was a visitor on the Norwegian Breakaway

A 56-year-old visitor who died while snorkelling near Hawkins Island on Wednesday has been named by police as Stephen Sakman.

A passenger off the Norwegian Breakaway, Mr Sakman had been out on a tour boat when he got into difficulties and was brought to shore.

The incident is under investigation by Marine Police as well as the Department of Marine and Ports.

Although his cause of death has yet to be determined, the death was one of several in recent years in which visitors have run into trouble on the water.

On June 21, a 62-year-old man died snorkelling off the Fairmont Southampton beach.

On May 19, Wilmis Herrera Moreno, a 25-year-old guest worker, encountered difficulties while swimming off Long Island in the Paradise Lakes area.

He received CPR, but was subsequently pronounced dead at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

A day later Kevin Keeley, a 52-year-old American visitor, began to struggle while swimming in the waters near Watford Bridge, and succumbed despite life-saving efforts.

Along with Maurice Comtois, 76, who died on July 6, 2013 after a medical emergency at Snorkel Park, Dockyard, several deaths in recent years have involved older visitors.

Deborah Moran, the marine services officer at the Marine and Ports, said the Island’s chartered boat operators were well versed in medical procedures.

“We inspect them every year for their safety equipment and make sure that the crew and new staff are trained in first aid and CPR,” Ms Moran said.

“Visitors come here and they might not have swum before or might not be used to the water. You have a lot of factors to consider.”

Asked if boat operators should consider stocking defibrillators, Ms Moran pointed out that specialised equipment was required for people brought out of the water. “You can’t just use any old defibrillator,” she said.

Training is also required, which can be given in the course of an afternoon: “I used to teach it,” she said. “They are fairly easy to use; they’re pretty automated. But they can cost $1,200 to $1,500.”

Ralph Richardson, of the Water Safety Council, agreed: “Along with defibrillators, there have to be people who know what they’re doing. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, however. There could also be multiple issues that have nothing to do with a heart attack. That has to be taken into consideration.”

Mr Richardson said it would go up for discussion when the council meets next month. Marc Pettingill, the MP for the area where Mr Sakman was taken from the water, said that it was impossible to protect visitors against all contingencies.

“Like with anything, there has to be a degree of balance with regard to level of threat,” he said. “There are sharks out there — should we put shark nets around the beaches? We need to have a look at how prevalent something is. It may be a good idea for tourist boats to have defibrillators just in case. Should we legislate that they must? I don’t think so.”

Tom Steinhoff, manager of Snorkel Park, began by pointing out that he was not any medical professional.

“There are so many variables as to whether it would help, but it wouldn’t hurt — and it could save a life,” he said. “The answer is probably yes.”