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Jan 7, 2016

An Elderly Tourist Dies While Snorkeling off Sergeants Caye

Janice Mittlelstadt

What should have been a memorable holiday in the Jewel, ended tragically for a U.S. visitor, who arrived early this morning on the Princess Cruise Lines. Sixty-seven year old Janice Mittlelstadt ran into difficulties while she was snorkeling today. She was removed from the water at Sergeants Caye and placed in the boat of a tour company, Hugh Parkey’s Belize Dive Connection. But Mittlestat did not survive the ordeal and died on the boat. The police are expressing concern about the number of deaths of senior persons during activities such as snorkeling. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Today, a total of four cruise ships called to port in Belize with over ten thousand tourists on board. Hundreds disembarked to enjoy the tours both terrestrial and aquatic. But tragedy struck as one of the Caribbean Princess’ passengers died while snorkeling near Sergeants Caye with the Hugh Parkey’s Belize Dive Connection. Around nine-thirty a.m., the body of sixty-seven year old Janice Mittelstadt was transported from the Radisson Pier to the K.H.M.H. Morgue.


Supt. Gualberto Garcia, O.C., Tourism Police Unit

“The tourism police officers were performing duty today and at about nine-thirty-five this morning, we received information of a body at the Radisson Pier. As a result of that, police visited the scene and upon arrival there, we discovered the body of a white female who was already apparently dead. Based on that, we conducted an investigation which is still ongoing…it’s very young at this time; however, what we can say at this moment is that this person is an American tourist. She has been identified as one Janice Mittelstadt; she is sixty-seven years old…her date of birth is the fourteenth of March 1948.”


The resident of South Dakota in the United States of America was on a cruise with relatives when she met her untimely death. Mittelstadt experienced complications while snorkeling and was taken out of the water and placed on to the boat. She lost consciousness and even though CPR was conducted on her, she passed away.


Supt. Gualberto Garcia

“Indication is that she came on a cruise ship this morning, since we have four cruise ships. She was picked up there sometime this morning and she went on a tour. Information so far is that she was snorkeling somewhere off Sergeants Caye when she suddenly went under water. She was rescued, given emergency services; however she cannot could not regain consciousness and then she was transported to the mainland where we the police encountered her this morning. She was on an official tour from a licensed company and she had to have been in the company of at least one tour guide. The name of the Belizean company that took her is Hugh Parkey’s Belize Dive Connection, the Belizean company that operates here and that took her on the tour.”


Gualberto Garcia

Duane Moody

“Sir, has the police found out so far whether this person had any condition that could have led to her demise?”


Supt. Gualberto Garcia

“I would say no on that. We have no information at this point if she had any precondition that could have led to this. However, the body is presently at the K.H.M.H. morgue and a post mortem will be performed on the body and upon the conclusion of that, we will be able to say precisely what caused her death.”


According to Officer Commanding the Tourism Police Unit, Superintendent Gualberto Garcia, several tourists have died in the past during aquatic tours and a meeting will be held with B.T.B. to address the issue.


Supt. Gualberto Garcia

“We have been seeing that for some time now, we have been having a few deaths occurring on the seas especially with diving and snorkeling. But we have also been seeing that those people who are diving are persons advanced in age. So we have decided to have some kind of discussion to see how best we can curve this situation because it can give us a black-eye.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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