This article was originally published in the Beacon’s print edition on Jan. 10.
On Dec. 20, the body of Dr. Joseph Horgan, a 65-year-old cardiologist visiting from the United States, was recovered from the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Ten days later, 62-year-old Denise Regan, another visitor from the US, died suddenly in the waters off Cooper Island, police confirmed this week. A third tourist from the Philippines, 48-year-old Roderick Aleantara, died on Jan. 4 while hiking the hillside on Jost Van Dyke, police added.
Police did not initially issue press releases about any of the three deaths. But soon after Dr. Horgan died, his family members in the US began posting on social media and told American news outlets that they were having difficulty getting his body back from the Virgin Islands.
On Dec. 26, Police Commissioner Michael Matthews announced that an investigation into the cause of Dr. Horgan’s death was ongoing, but that officials were awaiting medical records from the doctor’s family members.
“It must be noted that the relevant officials are exercising the usual due care and attention to this matter,” Mr. Matthews wrote. “The inquiries being conducted are standard and legally required in the investigations of all sudden deaths that occur in the territory, including Dr. Horgan’s.”
Dr. Horgan’s family, however, has said the process has been unduly complicated.
“We have sent them the medical records and they confirmed that they received them,” Dr. Horgan’s daughter, Lindsey Marcus, told the Miami Herald in late December. “They acted like we knew that we were supposed to send them the records, but we had no idea. They never reached out to us. This whole process is an absolute nightmare.”
On Facebook, Dr. Horgan’s son Jason Horgan wrote a tribute to his father.
“My father would have been 66 today,” he wrote on Dec. 26. “Words can’t describe the pain and emptiness we feel. He was a lot to a lot of people, but he was daddy, dad, pops, old man, and papa to us. He shaped the world we lived in and therefore the people we are today.”
On Jan. 2, police reported that the autopsy and report into Dr. Horgan’s death had been completed, and arrangements were being made with the BVI Tourist Board to release his body to family members at the “earliest possible time.”
Police later confirmed that Dr. Horgan’s body was repatriated on Tuesday.
Two more deaths
Less information has been released about the deaths of the other two visitors to the territory.
Virgin Islands Search and Rescue confirmed that rescuers were told there had been a possible drowning on Cooper Island on Dec. 30 around midday, and arrived to find Ms. Regan unresponsive and undergoing CPR.
VISAR continued CPR and transported the woman back to its base on Tortola before transferring her to an ambulance crew.
Police confirmed this week that an autopsy had been performed and “arrangements are being made” to have the body repatriated.
Mr. Aleantara’s cause of death has not been announced, though police said the investigation remains active.