From time to time, we have reports of tourists drowning while on water tours - and usually, it's from some cardiac event related to snorkeling or diving. But, tonight there's a disturbing report about a 61 year old American tourist who drowned while trying to save his wife's life. Disturbing, because Karl Edwin Simmons was a cruise tourist, who was on a guided tour - and, regulations state that both he and his wife should have been under the close watch of tour guides.
It happened on Tuesday afternoon - when the Texas resident and his wife, Esther were part of a tour by the H2o Tierra company in Shark Ray Alley which is in the Caye Caulker Village Marine Reserve.
According to police, the sea current caused Esther Simmons to start drifting away. Simmons went to save her as a result he disappeared into the water and was later seen floating face down. He had drowned. Dr. Mario Estradabran certified cause of death to be "Asphyxiation by Drowning, Incidental".
But - how did she start floating away - where were the tour guides? And where was the tour guide who should have been watching Karl Simmons?
Regulations state that one tour guide must accompany every 8 guests on every water tour.
These are questions we put to the Belize Tourism Board - which has been very dodgy on the issue. 80 hours after the accident, all the public relations manager could tell us is, quote, "we will investigate matter further and will need time to provide any response."
As for the tour operator, Tom Wilson is the owner of H2o Tierra and when asked for comment, he told us, quote, "I would like to but due to the ongoing investigation, I cannot."
Karl Simmons and his wife had come to Belize on the Norwegian Ship, Jade.
We will keep following the story until the BTB or Wilson can tell us where the breakdown in safety measures occured.