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Man Drowns Saving Daughter At Tulum Cenote

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Last Sunday afternoon, a 38-year-old tourist from Tabasco, Mexico drowned in the ‘Encantadao’ cenote located in the Tulum hotel zone. Authorities stated that the man jumped into the cenote to save his daughter after she fell into the water from a kayak. An investigation is now being launched into the safety measures surrounding the cenote, to ensure this kind of tragic event does not happen in the future.

Tulum Cenote

The man’s death occurred just after 4 pm on Sunday, on what was supposed to be a typical family vacation. The official report of the incident detailed how the man jumped into the water after his daughter lost balance from her kayak, barely managing to save her before drowning.

Upon the realisation that the man was no longer swimming, others enjoying the cenote rushed to lift him out of the water. Local lifeguards were also present at the scene but failed to resuscitate the man in time to save his life.

Authorities have since closed the cenote as it clearly did not have sufficient security and safety measures for preventing such a tragic incident, including safety vests or attentive lifeguards.

The Encantado ‘Enchanted’ Cenote is a highly popular open-water cenote surrounded by mangroves, with a wooden platform for diving as well as multiple kayaks and paddleboards. Various travel blogs that have written about the cenote have expressed the depth of the water and advise all tourists to be competent swimmers before visiting.

Many visitors consider cenotes to be a much safer environment to swim in than the ocean, which often has large waves or a strong undertow that can sweep visitors out to sea. Cenotes are closed off from open water, making them calmer and arguably safer places to swim. However, the tourist hotspots still pose a threat to even the most experienced of swimmers, with sharp rocks, hidden corners and irritant plant life.  

Life Jacket

Tulum authorities are now expected to re-train new lifeguards and put in better safeguarding techniques to avoid this event from happening again in the future. Safety measures should be increased with the addition of signage stating the depth of the lake and warning visitors that there is a potential danger of drowning.

lifeguard and flag

Life vests for infants and adults should also be available for use, allowing lifeguards to rescue visitors if they fall in the lake. Finally, tourists should only swim in cenotes during its allotted opening hours, as swimming after could lead to an accident that no one may respond to.

These are not the only issues that cenotes in the Mexican-Caribbean have had recently: last month, Quintana Roo’s public health authorities stated to the public that high levels of E.Coli bacteria were found in various cenotes across the state, posing a huge health risk to vacationers hoping to swim in them.

The Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks of Tulum initially conducted a water quality test in June, depicting the high level of infection that popular cenotes carried.

The cenotes that were the worst affected by this finding were the Cristal, Calavera and Casa cenotes in Tulum.  The level of the harmful bacteria in the water exceeded the healthy limit of exposure, leading authorities to conclude that tourists should avoid visiting them for their own protection.

In light of this horrible accident, tourists wishing to visit Encantado cenote or any other cenote in Quintana Roo are encouraged to visit with a guide or tour agency. This will ensure that emergency services will be accessible in the event of an emergency and that safety provisions will be made a priority on each visit.

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