Usually the sight of fun and frolicking, the Westin pool, above, was a more frightful sight last week when officials discovered a body floating in the water.
Emergency Medical Technicians were unable to resuscitate a woman whose body was discovered in the swimming pool of the Westin Resort and Villas on Monday night, July 19, around 8 p.m.
While about 100 St. John residents packed a ballroom at the Westin for a town hall meeting that night, EMTs and St. John Rescue officials responded to an alert of a possible drowning in the pool just a few hundred yards away.
Despite the efforts of EMT and St. John Rescue personnel, the woman — whose name was not available from V.I. Police Department officials last week — did not regain consciousness and was transported to the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center where she pronounced dead that night.
While details of the incident remained sketchy as of press time, the drowning victim was identified as a 32-year-old woman originally from England, according to information from VIPD spokesperson Melody Rames.
The woman was reportedly visiting St. John on vacation with her ex-husband, but VIPD officials did not suspect foul play, according to Rames.
“A woman tourist drowned in the pool at the Westin and we do not suspect foul play at all,” said Rames. “There was no crime. I am not going to jump to any conclusions about anything.”
“The body has to go through an autopsy, but this is not being treated as a crime,” Rames said. “There was no foul play involved pending the final investigation from the medical examiner.”
Westin general manager Mike Ryan declined to comment except to confirm that a body had been pulled from the resort’s pool on Monday night.
“There is an investigation going on,” said Ryan. “The police are doing the investigation they normally do in this situation. We’re fully cooperating with the police.”
The woman discovered floating in the Westin’s pool last week was not the first visitor to the popular St. John resort to have a brush with death in the past year.
Massachusetts veterinarian Joan Baruffaldi was discovered barely alive hanging from the shower curtain rod in the bathroom of her hotel room on November 4, 2009. She died at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center a few hours later.
While the VIPD deemed that incident a suicide, Baruffladi’s family disagreed and have been fighting in Boston area courts to have the matter further investigated.
Baruffaldi, a 45-year-old mother of two from Lynnfield, MA, was staying at the resort for a veterinary conference and had reportedly been arguing with her husband of three years, Robert Harris, the night her body was found hanging in the bathroom of their hotel room.
According to the VIPD’s investigation, after arguing with Harris, Baruffaldi went into the bathroom and wouldn’t open the door. Harris alerted Westin personnel, who unlocked the door and found Baruffaldi hanging from the shower curtain rod with a tie from a bathrobe around her neck, according to the VIPD, who officially deemed the incident a suicide.
Family members, however, didn’t believe Baruffaldi had taken her own life. Harris and Baruffaldi had reportedly been having marital problems and she had taken out a restraining order against him before the couple traveled to St. John, according to a report on abcnews.go.com.
Harris also stood to inherit approximately $3 million worth of real estate from Baruffaldi, as well as her personal estate reportedly worth about $100,000, according to the abcnews.go.com report.
Baruffaldi’s family hired an attorney who filed a wrongful death suit against Harris and the issue has not yet been resolved by the courts.