Months after two deaths in the V.I. National Park, VINP officials are still awaiting the official autopsy reports from Virgin Islands Medical Examiner Francisco Landron.
The Park, which acts as the lead investigation agency should a death occur within the VINP, must include the medical examiner’s report in its file, explained VINP Chief Ranger Mark Marschall.
“On any death in the Park, we’re the lead agency doing the investigation,” said Marschall. “It’s only right that we do a thorough investigation on any death in the Park, and make sure we get absolutely all the information we can. For any death, we need to have the medical examiner’s report.”
The VINP is waiting on reports on the deaths of 45-year-old St. John resident Mary Davis, who died March 24 following a scuba diving excursion at Hawsknest, and tourist Ari Roeksae, who died April 27 while snorkeling approximately 50 to 70 yards offshore at Cinnamon Bay.
While both deaths appear to not be suspicious, it’s still imperative the VINP includes the medical examiner’s report in its files, explained Marschall.
“Although we don’t have any reason to believe there is anything other than what it appears to be — deaths by natural causes — we do have to be sure,” he said.
Marschall has received no response from the medical examiner’s office, and is now working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to obtain the autopsy results.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office told me last week that they’d contacted the medical examiner’s office, and they should send them to me sometime in August,” said Marschall. “I don’t know what the holdup is. We haven’t been given a reason why it’s taking so long.”
Landron, the sole medical examiner for the V.I., has not responded to numerous messages left by VINP officials on his answering machine, Marschall added.
Landron did not respond to requests for information by the St. John Tradewinds last week.
It is believed that Roeksae, a Finnish national in the territory for the day with his wife on the Princess Cruises ship the Crown Princess, simply drowned while he was snorkeling at Cinnamon Bay. Roeksae, who was otherwise in good shape and was a good swimmer, was discovered with his snorkel tube underwater by a couple kayaking in the area. He had no pulse and was not breathing by the time he was brought in to the beach.
Davis was likely killed by pulmonary edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs that affects people who are overweight, which Davis was. She had a close call with the illness during a dive several months before she died, but was authorized by R.L. Schneider staff to return to scuba diving. On the day she died, Davis went into distress following a normal ascent, and was later pronounced dead at the MKSCHC.