Scuba Diver Dies at Mary’s Point; Authorities Say Victim was Part of Research Group

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MARY’S POINT — A 19-year old Massachusetts man was pronounced dead after diving with a group near Mary’s Point.

The victim was identified as Tucker Francis of Marion, Massachusetts. Authorities at the National Park Service and the Virgin Islands Police Department said Francis was unresponsive when he was recovered from the waters off Mary’s Point in late January.

Chief Park Ranger Rick Gupman said Francis was on an extended stay on St. John, aboard a research vessel moored near the area where the incident occurred. “The individual was out with a group performing some kind of research in the area and suddenly he disappeared.”

When fellow divers searched for Francis, Gupman said they found him on the sea floor and brought him, unconscious, to the shore.

Emergency medical technicians responded to the scene and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed, the chief ranger said. Personnel from Myrah Keating Smith Clinic pronounced the victim dead.

Officials were not able to provide the name of the research vessel Francis was affiliated with. Dr. Richard Nemeth, chief research scientist at the University of the Virgin Islands said he was not aware that research was taking place in the area.

UVI operates a recognized marine science department where visiting scientists frequently check in before they conduct studies around the Virgin Islands. Nemeth referred an inquiry to Tom Kelly, who is responsible for issuing permits for the Virgin Islands National Park.

Mary’s Point, where the death occurred, is within park boundaries. Attempts to reach Kelly by phone were unsuccessful.

The fatality was reported to police at Leander Jurgen’s Command in Cruz Bay, according to VIPD spokesman Glen Dratte.