gooCANCUN, Q. Roo — A former Olympic wrestler described by his police officer son as “the strongest guy I knew” is the latest drowning victim in Cancun.
Dariusz Sulich, 55, of West Valley City, Utah, died while snorkling on Wednesday March 23 during a vacation with friends in Cancun.
Salt Lake City area resident Sulich, known by friends as Darek, was originally from Poland, where he had been a member of the national wrestling team. Sulich was snorkeling when he reportedly was suddenly swept under by a current. CPR efforts were made to save his life, but he did not survive.
A GoFundMe account was set up by Darek Sulich’s grandson. As of Tuesday March 29, the family had received over $17,000 in donations, which is enough bring the body back to Utah and help with funeral costs.
“There has been such an outpouring of support that my whole family is speechless over it,” Brandon Sulich said.
Brandon Sulich learned about the accident when his dad’s friend called him from Cancun.
“They just said, ‘hey, you need to sit down,’” Brandon Sulich recalled. “Then they told me: ‘We went snorkeling and something happened, there might have been a rip tide and they tried to work on your dad with CPR.’ There was an off-duty firefighter that was there and he worked my dad for 25 minutes to no avail.”
Brandon Sulich said he was thankful the New York firefighter was there.
“A lot of people told me they saw the firefighter in tears getting off the boat. I know that feeling, when you give CPR over and over and it fails. You feel that guilt. I hope he is OK too,” the officer said.
At first, Brandon Sulich said, he couldn’t believe his dad, a former Polish national champion wrestler and European champion, had drowned.
“He was the strongest guy I knew. He was an Olympic wrestler,” the officer said. “He had a lot of years left.”
Brandon Sulich said he believes the snorkel tour operator was negligent in connection with his father’s death.
Darek Sulich’s friends told his son the guided snorkeling trip did not have proper lifesaving protocols or safety equipment.
“The water was really choppy that day, and we’ve had people say no one should have been snorkeling in that water.”
Brandon Sulich said the Cancun trip was his dad’s first vacation in 30 years. He cannot believe it was his last.
Funeral arrangements are currently underway.
Swimming and snorkeling conditions in the Cancun area can sometimes be hazardous due to winds, currents and rip tides. Swimmers are advised to use caution as to when they should enter the water, based on their aquatic skills.
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