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Drunken Ohio State Graduate Tennis Coach Craig Cooper Falls Into Shallow Waters Near The Christiansted Boardwalk And Drowns On Tuesday

TENNIS PITCH: Craig Cooper posted a video on YouTube touting his experience as a tennis teaching professional.

CHRISTIANSTED — A 61-year-old Ohio man who has been job hunting on St. Croix for at least a month was found drowned near the Boardwalk on Tuesday evening.

Craig Cooper of Columbus was found floating in the shallow waters near the Christiansted Boardwalk some time before 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Bystanders pulled Cooper from the water when they spotted him and EMTs administered CPR in an attempt to resuscitate him, but they were not able to revive him.

Cooper was pronounced dead by medical personnel on the scene. He was a guest at the King Christian Hotel for about three weeks.

Witnesses told police that he left dinner Tuesday evening, but never made it back to the hotel after that.

People who knew Cooper said that his job search was hampered by the fact that he was an end stage alcoholic who stayed drunk all day and all night.

Eyewitnesses said that had multiple cuts on his head that had been sutured with stitches from the numerous falls that he incurred in the weeks leading up to his death because he had been drinking so heavily.

When he first got to St. Croix in July, Cooper told friends that he was up for a job as the head tennis pro at the Buccaneer Hotel in Shoys and that he was originally from Connecticut.

People also said that he had lived in a private residence in Tide Village as a boarder prior to moving in to the King Christian Hotel about three weeks ago.

A restaurant within walking distance of Tide Village said that Cooper left the establishment one night and fell down into the middle of the East End Road.

Restaurant employees said that they had to rush outside to pull the inebriated man out of the street so that he would not be run over by oncoming traffic.

Friends of Craig Cooper acknowledged that he was actually an expert at lacrosse, and played for The Ohio State University’s team in that discipline — and not in tennis.



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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.


  1. Lori
    September 2, 2017 at 7:16 AM — Reply

    Wow does talking about his job search and drinking really have anything to do with his dying? How about a little dignity for the guy?

  2. No Name
    September 2, 2017 at 1:40 PM — Reply

    I agree! What kind of news story is this? This is a real person with family and friends. Let him Rest In Peace.

  3. Dillard
    September 2, 2017 at 8:03 PM — Reply

    This is not funny as the Headline tries to make it out to be Someone lost their life here , show some sensitivity and Compassion for this Man and his Family .
    No one knows the battle this Man may have been fighting inside , or for whatever reason he turned to Alcohol .
    I’m sure that someone somewhere has a beautiful story to tell of this Guy .
    Use his story to Educate people about the dangers of Alcohol , instead of making a mockery of him .

  4. Linda
    September 2, 2017 at 10:11 PM — Reply

    I understand the sympathy for the man, but I also see that this should be a warning to those on this path. Too often we do not present the facts realistically. We probably need to see reality sometimes, even if it is harsh. Maybe if someone would have had some tough love with him, he might have led a different life.

    • September 3, 2017 at 6:50 AM — Reply

      Thank you Linda, that is the point of reporting some of the facts associated with the drowning. If Craig had been able to seek treatment for his addiction, he might have been able to lead a successful and productive life for many years to come. Many people want to know how a man could drown in such shallow waters … the answers are in our story.

  5. Mike Huntstinx
    September 4, 2017 at 9:54 AM — Reply

    Truth. Like it or not, the TRUTH is what reporting is all about. This is a story that actually explained an event so that everyone could UNDERSTAND what actually happened. If only all news stories were covered this way, journalism would return to the professionally respected position it once held. Thank You, John McCarthy!

  6. Adam
    September 5, 2017 at 2:43 PM — Reply

    Coach Craig Cooper was a good friend with whom I worked in the tennis industry. He was an excellent tennis coach with great passion for the sport, teaching and his clients. He was a colorful man and a great story-teller with a wonderful sense of humor. We got to know each other well over a summer, when I also learned of his struggles. The article does portray a tragic incident that unfortunately I could envision happening to my friend. It’s important to know that Coach Craig was so much more than what is depicted in the article, when apparently he was at a low point. He was so much more in life. He lived a life of adventure and passions to the fullest. I will miss Coach Craig greatly, and I am proud and blessed to have known him and learned from him. My sincere condolences to his family and everyone who knew him.

  7. Ck
    September 5, 2017 at 8:06 PM — Reply

    I knew Coach and am saddened by this news. He had a lot of good qualities and a lot of things to
    offer and teach, Tennis, Fishing and Golf. He did attend AA classes and didnt drink for long periods of times. He had some relapses once in awhile and unfortunately one took his life. I’ll cya at The Cooper Loop Buddy.. Wheres the story about the estabishment over-serving him to the point of falling over?

  8. Lex
    September 13, 2017 at 11:13 PM — Reply

    Everyone on planet earth agrees, John McCarthy, that you could have utilized more humanity while delivering your expressions.

    Personally, I will never blame a writer for a headline, but my God, I do hope that you took your publisher to task for a disgusting headline.


    Life is not about falling down. It is about getting back up. Coach Cooper played lacrosse at Ohio State and taught tennis very successfully all over the world. He worked with the best and met everyone in the game, any club anywhere would have hired him. If you do not have any faults or demons, then God bless and rant on. But if you are a human being, then take head. This guy did not deserve this treatment.

    Isn’t the story here that an American man disappeared and died in the Virgin Islands ?

    God Bless this area. Please give to local charities.

    • K. Todd
      September 14, 2017 at 10:03 PM — Reply

      Please do not say that everyone on planet earth agrees because some on here have supported the reporter’s candid article. You have your opinion but that does not mean that your opinion is everyone’s opinion. Both sides of this debate have some validity. But the reporter had a job to do.

  9. E.L.P.
    September 14, 2017 at 9:59 PM — Reply

    Coach Cooper played lacrosse at Ohio State forty years ago. We have to grow up. And any club anywhere would not have hired him or he would have had a job. John McCarthy should report the truth. Sadly, Coach Cooper fell into a dark hole. I am sure everyone who knew him is sad, as they should be. But his choices defined his last years and his death. I believe that we have to practice tough love and have to view life realistically. In his article, McCarthy answered questions that many would have had about his death. I send my condolences to his friends and family. No one plans or wants to be an alcoholic, so I hope this story helps some to reflect on their own lives.

  10. Meg
    September 15, 2017 at 2:29 PM — Reply

    I knew Craig when I was a kid and he was among the best lacrosse players on my dad’s new team. He was handsome and kind and always had a nice word for me, an 11-year-old girl with a crush. He smiled and worked hard–just an amazing natural athlete. I don’t know how or why he ended up the way he did, but the casting of him here as the village idiot is cruel and unfair. Alcoholism is a disease and not everyone is able to find or accept help. Some empathy would do this author good. I’m sure Craig had enough demons that he couldn’t shake; piling on shame doesn’t help those who might learn from his life and certainly does nothing but cause more heartbreak for those who loved him.

    • Micha
      September 18, 2017 at 6:44 PM — Reply

      It is nice that you have fond memories of Coach Craig, but his days as a handsome, charismatic athlete had long passed. You are right; alcoholism is a disease. However, it does not have to be a deadly disease. Those who vacation in St. Croix do not deserve watching a drunk fall in the streets. Sad, yes. But we have to stop hiding the behavior of the alcoholics and the drug addicts. We have to talk about the problems and address the issues.

  11. Pam
    November 3, 2017 at 4:37 PM — Reply

    Craig Cooper was a nice, thoughtful guy. I did not know he suffered from alcoholism and am sad he was not able to maintain his sobriety. My brother went through a low period in his life and suffered the same fate. Both were athletes, likable, friendly and were excellent coaches-valuable human beings who did not deserve their fate.

    I am sorry you are gone Craig. I last saw you with my daughter about 9 years ago at WHCC where you were the head tennis pro. I was glad to see you then-you looked and sounded great. That’s how I will remember you.

  12. Pam
    November 3, 2017 at 5:31 PM — Reply

    By the way John McCarthy, using the word “drunken” to precede “Ohio State Graduate” in your headline is a disgraceful sensationalist attempt to draw attention to your article. It’s not just distasteful, it’s downright disrespectful.

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