Reef death attributed to illness
A CORONIAL report has revealed that a Japanese tourist who died in waters of Green Island last year had an underlying heart condition.
The 67-year-old man, who was pulled from the water befor falling unconscious on October 20, was one of 12 people to die in far northern waters in 2016.
His death was eight days after a 23-year-old Korean tourist was found floating in waters at Lizard Island off Cooktown on October 12, both which sparked speculation in the community that marine stings were the cause.
Forensic pathologist Dr Paul Botterill, who performed an autopsy on the man, said that while drowning was difficult to exclude the most likely cause of death was due to an underlying coronary artery atheroma and associated heart muscle scarring.
These findings come as planned changes to the reef inthroughout dustries code of practice could give tourism business the legal right to prevent Reef visitors, deemed as being at risk of strenuous activity in the water, from leaving the boat after a reef safety roundtable was recently held in Cairns.
A recently published coronial report stated that the man, who had been visiting the region with his wife and two long-time friends as part of his retirement holiday.
He was unable to be located after the second snorkel, which prompted a search. About the same time two lifeguards pulled the man from the water. He was having trouble breathing and fell unconscious. Despite resuscitation efforts for an hour, he was unable to be revived and pronounced dead.
The only medical history available was that the man had diabetes and was a smoker.
A post-mortem examination showed an enlarged heart with hardening and narrowing of the arteries, and indications of a heart attack.