Tourist, 67, drowns near Managaha reef

3rd drowning incident in the CNMI this year

A 67-year-old Korean male tourist on a snorkeling tour drowned near Managaha reef on Friday afternoon.

Department of Public Safety police spokesman Travis Hurst said yesterday that Commonwealth Health Center’s Dr. Gregory Kotheimer stated that Young Ho Park’s cause of death was drowning.

Hurst said the U.S. Coast Guard has been notified about the incident and it is currently doing its own investigation as the inspection authority over the tour vessel Ocean Star.

DPS Boating Safety Section personnel were dispatched to the drowning incident near Managaha reef on Friday at 3:53pm.

DPS was notified that Ocean Star transported the victim to the Smiling Cove Marina.

Park was reportedly on a snorkeling tour on the reef aboard the Ocean Star.

Hurst said that, according to witness accounts, Park was seen towing himself to the boat using the secured rope line, but before reaching the boat, his head was seen dipping under the water.

One witness stated that Park’s mask did not appear to be properly secured.

Boat crew jumped into the water and assisted Park, but found him unconscious and not breathing. Vessel crew performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the victim as he was being brought to Smiling Cove, where DPS medics were waiting.

Medics brought Park to CHC, but Dr. Kotheimer pronounced him dead at 4:30pm.

It was the third drowning incident in the CNMI this year.

In May, a Japanese snorkeling instructor drowned at the Pinatang Dive Site on Rota.

In February, a 17-month-old boy drowned in the swimming pool of a house in Papago.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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