The body of a Princess Cruise Line passenger, 67 year old Janice Mittelstadt, lies at the Morgue at the KHMH awaiting a post mortem examination following what police is initially calling a “snorkeling accident”. The South Dakota resident arrived in Belize sometime this morning aboard the Caribbean Princess and was picked up from the ship and taken to Sergeants Caye. Superintendent Gualberto Garcia, Officer Commanding the Tourism Police Unit has the details of what happened to her.
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. 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.
Duane Moody, Reporter: Sir, has the police found out so far whether this person had any condition that could have led to her demise?
Supt. Gualberto Garcia, O.C., Tourism Police Unit: 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.
Hugh Parkey’s Belize Dive Connection is a full service Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) facility located at Hugh Parkey’s Belize Adventure Lodge on Spanish Look-Out Caye located just 25 minutes from Belize City. Superintendent Garcia also noted that most of the deaths at sea involving cruise ship passengers have been largely older persons. He explained that they will consult with the Belize Tourism Board to address the issue.
Supt. Gualberto Garcia, O.C., Tourism Police Unit: 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.