Two foreign tourists died near Cancún Friday when a boat ran over them while they were diving.
The men, aged 64 and 67, were part of a group of four divers on excursion with the company Squalo Adventures, a well-established Isla Mujeres dive company. Both were experienced divers and marine biologists, a company employee confirmed.
Initial reports disagreed on whether the men were Canadian or American, but authorities were working to get access to their travel documentation so as to confirm their nationalities.
The Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office said the group was diving at a popular shipwreck site about 12 kilometers south of the island of Isla Mujeres. The divers were using a buoy to indicate their presence to water traffic in accordance with a diving safety convention. The buoys are generally attached to ropes which divers use to ascend to the water’s surface.
Near the end of the dive, the group was returning to their boat when another craft entered the area. The Mr. Tom, a boat belonging to the mainland dive company Scuba Cancún, failed to notice the buoy and passed over them despite the shouts of the leader of the Squalo Adventures excursion.
The boat’s propellers struck two members of the group, killing one at the scene. The other died before reaching land.The captain of the Mr. Tom was arrested and the boat was seized, authorities said.
The accident occurred near the wreck of the Cañonero C-55, a U.S. minesweeper built for the U.S. Navy during World War II, decommissioned in May 1946 and sold to the Mexican navy in 1962. The navy converted it into an oceanographic research vessel and sank it in 2000 to create an artificial reef.
Diving can be a precarious activity near Cancún: on February 8 a yacht hit a boat leaving a swimming instructor injured and two women have been wounded by boat propellers in the last three years, the news site Por Esto reported.