Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2014

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Las Vegan on vacation in Jamaica is killed by watercraft

KINGSTON, Jamaica — An American man vacationing in Jamaica died Tuesday after being struck in the head by a personal watercraft off a popular western beach town, police said.

Constable Carla Francis of the Jamaican police force's communications office identified him as Thomas Torres, 63, of Las Vegas.

Torres was swimming in the placid sea off the beach in the resort town of Negril when he was hit by the watercraft, Francis said. Witnesses told police the operator sped off as beachgoers jumped into the water to pull Torres to shore.

Torres was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Investigators detained one person, but no charges had been filed, Francis said.

A few months ago, Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill announced in Parliament that regulations on the safe usage of personal watercraft would be strengthened and enforced. He made the announcement amid growing concern about accidents as well as the environmental impact and noise pollution from the machines.

He also imposed a six-month ban on the importation of new watercraft and said all personal watercraft activities in resort areas would be conducted beyond swimming areas and away from piers and shops.

Kingsley Roberts, communications director for Jamaica's tourism ministry, said officials were awaiting a full report on Tuesday's incident and had no immediate comment other than they regretted the death.

In August, another deadly personal watercraft accident made headlines on the Caribbean island. A 7-year-old Jamaican girl was killed while playing in the sand in the northern resort town of Ocho Rios when a watercraft operator lost control and skidded up the beach, slamming into her. Several relatives of the girl were injured. The operator, a tourist, was charged with manslaughter.

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