Popular Medical Doctor Dies in Deep Diving Accident Off North Shore
Dr. Guy Garman of St. Croix
CHRISTIANSTED – A popular St. Croix medical doctor went missing and was presumed dead Saturday in a scuba diving accident while attempting a record deep dive off of the Long Reach, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.
Dr. Guy Garman, with offices in the Beeston Hill Medical Center as an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, died Saturday afternoon while trying to break a deep diving record with a team of other divers at Long Reach, the barrier reef that acts as a breakwater outside Christiansted harbor.
Police Commissioner Delroy Richards, Sr. confirmed Garman was missing from a morning dive expected to take 10 hours, but said Saturday afternoon that neither his family nor his friends had reported him missing.
“Basically, he’s unaccounted for,” Richards told the Virgin Islands Free Press about Garman, adding that no body has been recovered as of yet. Still, a search of the area he went missing in was being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, he said.
Garman successfully dove to 350 feet in about 40 seconds, but never gave fellow divers — including his 20-year-old son Kip — any further indication that he was diving deeper. Garman was carrying at least seven air tanks as part of the record attempt. His wife was on the boat that took him out to the dive site.
People connected to the large diving community in the Cane Bay area of St. Croix were shook up when contacted about the accident today even though it occurred off the North Shore of Christiansted.
“They’re all having a real hard time right now,” the dive expert said, asking that his name be withheld. “Basically we want the confirmation of Dr. Garman’s body being found in order to come to grips with this and for it to seem real.”
Meanwhile, the response on Facebook in the St. Croix Think Tank was strong with one person saying that the Virgin Islands Free Press should have waited to post the story until Dr. Garman’s family and friends had been notified.
But VI Free Press Publisher John McCarthy disagreed, saying that the timely publication of the story was essential to try to rally a search and rescue attempt of Dr. Garman from the boating and diving communities of St. Croix while there was still daylight Saturday.
“Nobody gets excited about a rescue attempt if they don’t know who’s missing,” McCarthy said, adding that the online newspaper had three sources of confirmation of the missing man’s name before deciding to publish the article online ahead of all other media sources in the territory. “If it were my relative who went missing I would not be able to sleep until I knew that I had done everything possible to try to mobilize a search effort to find him and give him help.”
Most people expressed their condolences to the family of Dr. Garman in the St. Croix Think Tank on Facebook, and several said the experienced diver knew the risks involved in undertaking such a dangerous dive.
“The sadness should be for his family and friends, he will be missed but not forgotten,” friend Paul Vrabcak said. “When you reach for the stars and go where no man has gone before you may fail to return but you do succeed in living your dreams. It’s important to remember Dr. Guy Garman as one of those who dared to live, was unapologetic for his dreams and faced the fear of the unknown bravely, I was proud to know him.”
“Doc Deep” was the name Dr. Garman used on Facebook. His account was still up and running as of the writing of this article.
Prominent St. Croix real estate broker David Carr said in the St. Croix Think Tank that Dr. Garman had saved his life with a medical procedure and that he had a follow-up appointment with the ENT scheduled for Monday. Carr posted this video from Scuba Diving on August 11 in which “Doc Deep” described the dive that he was about to undertake.
The world record for deep diving is 1,090 feet and was set by Ahmed Gabr of Egypt on Sept. 22, 2014 in the Red Sea, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.