Reef death at­trib­uted to ill­ness

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Janessa Eck­ert

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.

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