Dive operators are renewing calls for tougher enforcement after a near miss between a jetski operator and divers is caught on camera.
They say these badly-behaved jet-skiiers have been a problem for far too long, and it needs to be reigned in before someone gets hurt or killed.
“They come to close to the boat, they drive like crazy people, they come to close to our divers, but the other day was the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said DiveTech’s Joanna Mikutowicz, who witnessed the too-close for comfort encounter between her diving customers and jetski operator last week on Grand Cayman’s West side.
“I literally almost watched one of my customers get struck with the jetski,” she said. “I was watching this jetski bear down on him, not even listening to me shouting or honking my air horn at him, and I realized I almost witnessed somebody get hit by a jetski, and at those speeds that is not going to end well.”
This dangerous behavior is nothing new.
“Those that are renting the jetski’s are checking their brain when they rent them to say the least. They are coming in close, they are buzzing, we are giving them the air horn.” said Off The Wall Divers’ Tom Shropshire, voicing his frustrations over badly-behaved jetski operators back in April.
This week, after seeing Ms. Mikutowicz’ video, Mr. Shropshire penned an email to police, saying the rules need to be laid down.
“We all want the same end result, which is all of our visitors and each other to be safe at the end of the day, and we are all working towards that goal, we need to just figure out who it is that needs to enforce the stuff, and what new enforcement things can happen,” said Ms. Mikutowicz.
Dive operators are currently instructed to call 9-1-1 to report jetski issues.
“The issue is, it takes about 20 seconds to notice a jetski is coming directly at your boat, and then they run over your divers, and you don’t even have the call through in 20 seconds, so it’s going to be too late,” she said.
Ms. Mikutowicz says she hopes, in the interest of safety, police, the watersports community, and dive operators can work together to find a solution.
“Ideally we could just catch them in the act, but if that is not an option, we just need to come up with something,” she said.
Police told Cayman 27 they are aware of these complaints and have increased their patrols in these areas in response.
In a statement, RCIPS Superintendent Brad Ebanks said, quote:
“We intend to meet with the CITA, Port Authority and the watersports operators to review the requirements and best practices for water safety and safety briefings, in order to ensure that these are conducted in a consistent and effective manner, and that any necessary changes to these requirements can be determined and implemented,” said RCIPS Superintendent Brad Ebanks said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Superintendent Ebanks said many of these jetski riders are visitors, and that anyone found to be in breach of the relevant laws will be dealt with accordingly.