Two foreign divers, either American or Canadian, were killed off Mexico’s resort of Cancun by a dive boat that moved over them, prosecutors said Saturday.
The prosecutors’ office in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo said investigators were still trying to gain access to the divers’ travel documents to verify their nationalities. Some local media reported they were Americans; others reported they were Canadians.
Prosecutors confirmed the ages of the victims, 60 and 65. They were apparently a man and a woman, part of a group of four foreign divers.
Prosecutors said the divers had deployed a buoy and were ascending after a dive on a popular wreck site just off Cancun on Friday, when a boat from another local dive company ignored warnings and sailed over them.
The company the two were diving with, Squalo Adventures, said in a statement that “we are deeply saddened by the loss of our clients who in time became our friends. However, there is an ongoing investigation and we cannot comment at this time.”
“Squalo Adventures is cooperating fully with said investigation,” the statement continued. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those that were lost.”
The accident occurred near the C-55 Gunship, a U.S. WWII-era minesweeper that later saw service in the Mexican Navy and was intentionally sunk off Cancun in 2000 to provide marine habitat and a dive site. It is a busy and popular site among divers.
The prosecutors’ office said a boat from another local company moved over the divers despite the buoy as well as waved and shouted warnings from the dive master. The boat then tried to rescue the other diver, but she was already dead.
Traditionally, divers deploy a buoy with a distinctive red and white flag to warn boaters there are divers below the surface, and to avoid the area.
The buoys are usually connected to ascent ropes divers use to surface slowly and decompress.
An employee of the other dive company said she would try to provide comment from management, but did not immediately do so.
The Caribbean coast, Mexico’s top tourist moneymaker, has been hit in the past by allegations of poor safety practices. More recently, rampant violence has stained the coast’s laid-back reputation.
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