EXCLUSIVE: Cancun dive captain says senior American marine biologists were killed in ‘tragic accident’ when ANOTHER company’s boat propellers ‘hit them in the head’ after loading at site of l wreck instead of waiting their turn
- Two American men, ages 65 and 60, were killed on Friday while diving in Isla Mujeres, off Cancun
- They were diving on a shipwreck with Squalo Adventures, which has operated on the island for 16 years
- The two marine biologists were joined by two other divers and a divemaster
- They were returning to their boat when a larger boat operated by Scuba Cancun arrived on site.
- Rather than waiting for Squalo’s divers to surface, Scuba Cancun’s boat, Mr. Tom, sailed above them.
- The ‘huge’ propellers hit the two Americans in the head, the owner of Squalo Adventures told DailyMail.com
- The two single Americans were ‘very experienced’ divers – their families are now on the way
Andres is the owner of the diving company with which the two Americans were diving. He told DailyMail.com that another company’s boat interrupted their dive and sailed above them.
The owner of the Cancun scuba diving company in charge of two Americans killed in the water in a propeller accident on Friday told DailyMail.com that another company’s boat hit them in the head, causing them to die.
The two Americans have not yet been identified, but they are two men, both single, aged 60 and 65. Local media initially misidentified them as male and female.
DailyMail.com can reveal that they were experienced divers and marine biologists with over 20 years of experience.
Their families are now on their way to Isla Mujeres and Cancun to collect their bodies.
The pair were participating in a four-hour, two-tank shipwreck dive at Isla Mujeres organized by Squalo Adventures.
The business owner, who only gave his name as Andres, told DailyMail.com that they were nearing the end of their dive and were using buoys to return to their boat when Mr. Tom, a larger vessel owned by Cancun-based Scuba Cancun, sailed them.
Mr. Tom’s propellers fatally struck the two Americans in the head, according to Andres. The other two divers and the divemaster survived.
This boat – belonging to Scuba Cancun – arrived in the sinking while the Americans were still in the water. Andres says his “huge” propellers hit the two Americans in the head and killed them. Courtesy of Riviera Maya
The ‘Mr Tom’ boat has now been seized by Isla Mujeres authorities
“It was a tragic accident,” Andres said on Saturday.
He added that it is an “international pact” between divers to wait at a dive site if another boat is already there to avoid such an accident, but Scuba Cancun ignored him.
Instead, they sailed hastily, their propellers whizzing through the water, to drop off their own divers.
Mexican media reports that Mr. Tom’s captain is now in custody. He has not been named.
Andres was not diving but his divemaster and the other two surviving divers told him what had happened in horrific detail.
“We were diving on a wreck…the other big huge boat was passing and it hit us.
“They didn’t take any precautions – we were the only ones there.
“The propellers are very large – they hit the two experienced divers in the head and they did not survive.” It killed them.
“They didn’t follow the rules, they just wanted to drop off their divers. They did not respect the area
“When you dive, you have to queue. Everyone knows that,” he added.
The Americans were diving with Squalo Adventures, which has operated on the island for 16 years
This is the type of boat the Americans were returning to when the much larger boat sailed overhead and fatally injured them.
Photos from the scene show forensic teams working on one of the victims
Andres has been running the Isla Mujeres center for 16 years. It organizes various snorkeling and diving trips.
The trip the Americans were on was a four-hour dive to the wreck of the USS Harlequin that the Mexican Navy sank in 1980 to create an artificial reef. Squalo sells the dive for $115 per person.
The company says on its website that the wreck is more suitable for advanced divers.
Scuba Cancun, which operates from mainland Cancun, sells a four-hour shipwreck dive for just $77 per person.
This is the tour they were about to drop people off on Friday when the Americans were killed. It’s unclear how many people attended, but it’s advertised on the Scuba Cancun website as being for certified divers only.
The two Americans were part of a larger group that has been visiting Isla Mujeres for years, Andres added.
The U.S. Embassy in Cancun did not respond to inquiries Saturday about the type of consular assistance it provides.