Scuba diving accident at Harlequin’s Buccament Bay: Friends question emergency care, lack of insurance


“The shocker is that the injured diver was not evacuated to Barbados until the next morning – after additional serious damage happened overnight.”

“Harlequin has offered no support to injured dive instructor Michael Richards…”

Harlequin and St. Vincent news media say not a word about this story…

An experienced diving instructor at Harlequin’s Buccament Bay was evacuated to Barbados for critical care after he was seriously injured on the weekend of November 16, 17, 2013.

From what we’ve been able to gather, Bajan Michael “Richie” Richards fell unconscious after a dive and was taken to Milton Cato Hospital: but the shocker is that he was not evacuated to Barbados until the next morning after additional serious damage happened overnight.

Diving friends and co-workers are incensed and say that Richie should have been evacuated on an emergency basis right away because St. Vincent does not have a re-compression chamber, so by the time any further symptoms became apparent it would be too late.  Any diver knows that unconsciousness within a few hours of a dive is a critical indicator of decompression sickness and serious injuries possibly already done. A gas embolism (“air bubble”) in the brain or heart can kill or maim for life, and if a diver falls unconscious within a few hours of a dive, it is immediately a critical situation even if the victim regains consciousness and appears to have no other symptoms such as joint pain. Dive physicians worldwide agree on one thing: any sign of gas embolism and the diver should get moving towards a hyperbaric chamber immediately by the safest possible means.

Some of Richie’s friends and divers in general are pointing to a statement on Barbados Free Press by Kay Wilson, the owner of Indigo Watersports Ltd., as proof that Richie’s condition was not taken seriously at the time.

Ritchie’s employer Kay Wilson said…

“The following morning it became apparent that his injuries were more severe than anyone could have expected and he was transported with hours to Barbados for treatment.”

One diving colleague told Barbados Free Press “The wrong decisions were made at each step until it was too late. Richie is facing months of treatment and may not fully recover. Immediate evacuation and treatment could have made the difference and probably would have made a big difference in the seriousness of his injuries.”

Richie’s friends are also concerned that he has no insurance and that Wilson stated his dive was “after work”. Divers quite correctly point out that diving illnesses and injuries are often cumulative from multiple dives, and that the earlier work dives that very day were certainly part of the problem. They see Wilson’s statement as a poor attempt to shift liability away from Richie’s employer. They also question why a diving company would not have proper insurance for their diving instructors and students to get them quickly to a chamber the moment a problem happens.

Did Richie have a working dive computer? Was it supplied by the employer? What standards does his employer insist on? Are those standards really enforced or does the work schedule override safety? Does the employer monitor dive logs against work schedules and classes? What was his schedule for the past three months? As a working diver, did the employer arrange medical supervision and regular checkups?

No Ms. Wilson: this is not as simple as “Ritchie was diving after work”.

Barbados Free Press hopes that Richie recovers quickly. As usual, should Kay Wilson or anyone wish to say anything to our readers we would be happy to feature their comments in an article and give it the same prominence.

Further information about hyperbaric chambers and treatment in Barbados and St. Lucia:

BADASS – Barbados Divers Association

Iyanola Dive Ventures – St. Lucia Hyperbaric Center

Here are some of the exchanges about Michael ‘Richie’ Richards that happened at Barbados Free Press: 

A prayer for Richie of Indigo Dive.
Submitted on 2013/11/20 at 2:25 pm

The divers name is Michael Richie Richards, he is currently in hospital in Barbados, he has no medical insurance nor will he receive sick pay.

We thank Kay Wilson for her clarification but are saddened by the fact that it took posters on this site to highlight the tragic incident.

Sadly there are differing versions surrounding the events, however the priority for all concerned is to pray for Richie and his family and hope he makes a full recovery.

Ms. Wilson would be well aware of the problems associated with Buccament Bay. There are no trained first aiders employed by Harlequin at Buccament Bay and the Resort doctor is in fact a local doctor who can be called to the Resort on an as needed basis.

In other countries a full HSA investigation would be conducted after such an accident and diving operations suspended pending an initial report at least on the cause of the accident.

It would probably be too much to ask either K Wilson or Buccament Bay to provide details of the insurance cover and the insurance company name for independent verification. Or is this covered by an NDA.

We are also saddened that Harlequin have made no statement with respect to the accident nor have they offered any support to Michael Richards.

Kay Smith was seen in photographs assisting with passing buckets of water to help put out the fire at Buccament Bay a year ago.

signed: A prayer for Richie of Indigo Dive.

From Kay Wilson of Indigo Dive

Dear Sir / Madam,

My name is Kay Wilson, I am the owner of Indigo Watersports Ltd.

My team and I have been devastated by aftermath of Richie’s accident, and have supplied all of the support that we could in order to assist Richie and his family during this very trying time.

I would like to clarify a few points;

Richie and his dive companion decided to take a dive on their own time afterwork.

Richie passed out following his second dive. His dive buddy immediately got him to the Buccament Bay Resort and raised the alarm. His colleagues, the resort security and resort doctor assisted Richie once brought to shore.

He was transported quickly to Milton Cato Hospital where he received first class care by the hospitals medical professionals.

Richie appeared to respond well to the treatment and gave no indication that he would require anything more than an overnight stay.

The following morning it became apparent that his injuries were more severe than anyone could have expected and he was transported with hours to Barbados for treatment. Richie is currently with his family in Barbados where his treatment continues, and we are hopeful that he will make a full recovery.

In the ten years that Indigo has been in business we have had an exemplary safety record. As part of our service to Buccament Bay Resort we are required to have Public Liability Insurance policy in place.

I know that RIchie and his family will be heartened by the support shown for him during this time by the participants of this online community, however may I ask that anyone wishing to confirm Richie’s status contact me directly so that I may put you in touch with his family.

I can be contacted at


Kay Wilson


Submitted on 2013/11/20 at 1:19 am

If he was diving under the supervision of Indigo dive he would have been covered. Indigo dive pulled out of BB due to non payment, sound familiar?


Submitted on 2013/11/19 at 9:57 pm

If a fund is started four Richie I should be happy to contribute.

I wonder if the companies that provide trip insurance are aware that they just might be responsible for guest mishaps since it would be totally impossible to get anything from Harlequin.

As a matter of fact Gonsalves should shut BB down until they provide proof of coverage. As an aside why didn’t Comrade Gonsalves fly Richie to Havana where he seems toy have pretty good political connections? Surprisingly Cuba does have world class medical facilities.

A prayer for Richie of Indigo Dive.

Submitted on 2013/11/19 at 9:16 pm

Another year has passed and another batch of awards is being proposed for the Resort which has supposedly redefined luxury in the Caribbean.

These new nominations are in respect of the sporting academies located at Buccament Bay.

But before we continue maybe we should take time out and pray for Richie from Indigo Dive, the Buccament Bay dive school. Richie was seriously injured in a diving accident over the weekend. Sadly the lack of insurance cover by both Buccament Bay and Indigo dive, and the lack of any immediate first aid at the resort meant that Richie was without adequate and vital medical attention for in excess of 16 hours. This is the time it took to arrange a medevac for Richie to Barbados.

I think it is time we pray for both Richie and his family. And hope that Richie can make a speedy recovery.

And it is time that Buccament Bay, The Harlequin Sports Accademy and Indigo dive provide the adequate insurances to cover their sports academy and indeed the resort, so that in the unfortunate event that another accident occurs and God forbid if it were to happen a guest, that the shambolic events of this weekend are not repeated.

We call on Dave Ames, Andy Townsend and Kay Wilson to ensure that adequate insurances are now immediately put in place and we call on Andy Townsend as the director of the Sports Academy to suspend all the activities until such time as proper insurance is in place.

It is sad that the management of Buccament Bay, Mr. Townsend or Kay Wilson are unwilling to acknowledge the serious accident which occurred out of a fear that it would bring additional, unwanted attention on the operations of Buccament Bay and Harlequin.


Filed under Health, Sports

32 responses to “Scuba diving accident at Harlequin’s Buccament Bay: Friends question emergency care, lack of insurance

  1. Outsider

    If it was just about the insurance / lack of money, how did he get to Barbados; & if SVG does not have the correct medical equipment should people be diving there?

  2. Anonymous

    I just want to comment on the statement by Kay Wilson stating that he seemed to be recovering on the night of the accident. As mentioned above standard PADI safety protocol is that ANY sign of DCI (decompression illness) should be taken very seriously and the diver should immediately be seen by a DIVING DOCTOR and/or taken to a hyperbaric chamber. I am not sure how it can be called “first class care” at the hospital when it’s obvious that they didn’t know the severity of the situation or the correct measures that needed to be taken. Negligence on the part of quite a few parties caused a serious situation to become even more serious.

  3. Melanie harris

    Erm am I missing the point here. Although I am extremely sorry for this poor chap and his family. Did I read right that he did this in his time off from harlequin and indigo. Why then would he be able to make a claim against these companies.

  4. Diver

    @ Melanie Harris….you are missing a very big point and are obviously not a diver. Repetitive diving (as in when he is working) has a culmulitive effect on the human body and therefore any repuatble dive operation would have a duty of care to make sure that their staff are aware of the need and do take suitable breaks and gaps between diving, so whilst “it was in his own time” they should have ensured he was within recognised safe limits to dive….without knowing the full circumsances or facts (like other Harlequin information) it is possible that he was diving outside safe limits, which may put the responsibilty on Indigo/Harlequin.

    Was he usining Indigo equipment, their dive boat etc etc…in which case he would have a claim of negligence against his employers (in most reputable parts of the world anyway…not sure re svg law)….

    without the full facts and details leading to the event, he may or may not have a claim…as an example, was he investigating potential new dive locations, but outside normal working hours, so was actually working etc…so many facts to confirm.

    What ever the facts of the event, I and I am sure divers the world over will wish and pray he makesa full recovery

  5. Anonymous

    @Melanie Harris

    Whether Richie was on the clock or off, a professional or an amateur, a visitor or a local, named Michael or named Sarah etc. a diving accident is just that and should be tended to accordingly.

    I can understand that the general public will not be aware of the procedures involved when a diving accident takes place in the same way that not everyone will know what to do in the case of a chemical/radioactive/other specialized accident, but don’t you think that the companies who are involved in recreational diving should be aware of and follow the procedures that are outlined when an accident takes place? Also don’t you think that a hospital in a country where frequent diving takes place, should also be aware of the procedures? Or at least have someone to refer to as to guide on to the next step. The first step in this case should have been straight to the Hyperbaric chamber in Barbados with no questions asked.

    Unfortunately Richie is an example of how diving in St.Vincent is dangerous, not due to immediate dangers but due to the total lack of Emergency care. Would Richie had been treated differently if he was on the clock? Or if he was a guest at the resort? What would happen to the next individual to suffer a diving accident?

  6. Katherine

    Would we be having all this fuss if BB was not loosely liked to this? I doubt it

  7. Eddie Lizzard2

    Katherine your arrogance is breathtaking. Your ignorance is astonishing. And your colonialism is just plain wrong.

  8. Anonymous

    Katherine why not hook-up within Kim Jong Un and found a dynasty?

  9. Anonymous

    Rumor has it that they look a lot alike…

  10. melissa banfield

    in spite of the tragic incident, We are all asked to say a special pray for richie. He’s a young man who love his job very much. It is a very sad situation. I know that richie is a fighter and very determined and would get through this ordeal with the help and support of his friends and families. Richie you are never alone you have a lot of support. May your road to recovery be a success.

  11. David Inkey

    Mrs Kay Wilson has been guilty in the past of not having current Insurance Policies both for Staff and Public Liabilities. She is extremely arrogant , rude and as has now been shown complacent with other Peoples lives.

    Lets hope that PADI investigate Her and if as has been alleged She has broken standard protocols Her license and the license of Indigo Dive are all revoked.

    Have Harlequin and Buccamen confirmed that Insurance Policies are in place. If not then they are equally responsible for this tragic accident .

  12. Anonymous

    DI – I would add to the list of culpability any travel agency that sells
    the package that includes scuba instruction. Indeed even if they advise
    that scuba is available.

  13. Dear Mr. Inkey,

    Your statements about my insurance status are libelous, and if you would be willing to share your contact information I would be happy to discuss the matter with you further.

    The statements in the ‘article’ above are incorrect.

    Richie is a qualified PADI Dive Master, not an instructor, nor is he a Bajan, he is Vincentian.

    The writers knowledge of dive theory shows a lack of understanding of even the basics.

    It would be inappropriate of me to discuss Richie’s employment history in a public forum, suffice to say he was employed in a non-diving capacity.

    I’m really not sure what it is that I have done to warrant such vitriol, and it is apparent that there are folks that are using Richie’s unfortunate situation as a vehicle to attack me and my company.

    My team and I were devastated by Richie’s injuries, and we are all wishing him a speedy recovery. Those who were present at the time of his accident did everything they could to assist him as per their PADI training.

    Suffice to say, should a reputable publication, or any concerned individual wish to discuss the matter with me I can be contacted via email at


    Kay Wilson

  14. Diver

    @ Kay Wilson, so as a statement of fact do you say that you have never been guilty in the past of not having current Insurance Policies both for Staff and Public Liabilities

    just asking?

  15. @Diver,

    If you are willing to share your real name, and your contact information I will be happy to provide you with the details of my insurers, and the policies that I hold.


    Kay Wilson

  16. David Inkey

    It Is a shame that the other Professional Dive Companies and the Yachting Fraternity of SVG do not hold Mrs Kay Wilson in the same High Regard that She holds of herself. Just ask Barefoot Charters their opinion

    It is a fact that in the recent past Mrs Wilson did not have the correct Insurance Policies in place as confirmed by contacts with Harlequin and Buccamen

    I hope and trust that PADI will carry out a full investigation. Can Mrs Wilson confirm that She has as Policy dictates reported this serious accident to the Governing Body?

    I also wish Richie a speedy and full recovery.

  17. Diver

    @Kay Wilson….but surely these are on display in your dive shop and on view for members of the public, so you should not have an issue at least confirming the policy start/end dates, and cover provided…..without naming the insurance company, although surely no reason to hide this also

    You seem to require id details for what realy should be on public display

    If you answered my posts, then surely this would confirm that your business is reputable and operates correctly and would be an excellent free advert for your services, as well as stopping instantly the posters who are claiming you do not hold the required cover

    I dont think the questions are unfair and indeed are questions I ask prior to booking a scuba based holiday

  18. Eddie Lizzard2

    It was Matt Ames, (son of Dave & Carol) whilst acting as GM of Buccama Bay back in the summer, who claimed that diving was not available to Harlequin guests because of insurance issues with Indigo Dive. It was probably much more likely to do with non-payment issues with Harlequin. But who knows?

    However unfair press & shit sticks! The Tripadvisor/reviews/ comments were dire. I would suspect that Ms Wilson rues the day she ever entered into a business contract with Harlequin.

    It’s true that there is inadequate emergency medical aid for most visitors (let alone divers) in SVG. You should ensure your own personal medical insurance adequately cover mishaps not only during diving, but snorkelling, swimming, sailing, trekking etc. but being ‘airlifted out’ to a decent hospital.

    Much more alarming though is the fact that local people, including most children, don’t have much to rely on when it comes to dentistry, obstetrics, diabetes, gynaecology, oncology, HIV/AIDS.

  19. Another Diver

    So according to some of the posters here, if I have a builder amongst my employees, and he borrows one of my hammers to repair his sisters roof after work and falls off and break his legs, its my fault.

    You must take responsibility for your actions, no matter how tragic the accident was, it was an accident, and it involved someone who knew (or should have known) better. Trying to blame anyone other than than the man who made a critical mistake is unhelpful.

    Indigo Dive’s insurance is irreverent, as is informing PADI. This was a private dive, and a private accident. Fault lies with the divers involved, no one else.

  20. John West

    @David Inkey,

    I have known and worked with Kay Wilson in the marine industry here in SVG for many years both before she established Indigo Dive and thereafter. She and her team do an excellent job and we’ve never had any reason to question her professionalism and commitment to doing it right. it was less than a year ago that she was rewarded at our Annual Tourism Awards for her contribution to the development of the water sports sector at Buccament Bay resort.

    More recently (March) Indigo Dive was awarded PADI Education Centre of the month worldwide. Every day, divers from around the world sends PADI correspondence complimenting PADI Dive Centres and Resorts for outstanding customer service and commending PADI divemasters and instructors for their professionalism and leadership abilities. Each month, the PADI Member Recognition Committee reviews the submissions and selects a PADI Dive Centre or Resort Member to be recognized.

    As I’ve said previously Indigo’s track record is exemplary and the incident frankly had nothing to do with them as it was on his time, not theirs.

  21. David Inkey

    Dear Mr John West

    Were You present in the bush bar when a very “stoned” Mrs May Wilson was telling everyone there that despite this bullshit accident Dave Ames loves her and needs her.
    Ask Zac All the Guys there were upset with she.

    Rude and no caring

    Awards don’t forgive lack of care or No insurances again ask harlequin or buccamen for proof.
    There are gaps in cover. Mr Ibrim told me.

    Is john west your real name (tinned fish) or an alias no doubt

  22. David Inkey

    Sorry Kay. Not may

  23. David Inkey

    Sorry Kay not May

  24. Anonymous

    I am so glad that some1 is finally painting the true picture of that arrogant woman (Kay Wilson ) and Buccament bay resort…there is soo much people don’t know about the other bullshit that goes on within that organization ..they all needs to be exposed!!!!

  25. Katherine

    Is this about a diver who should know better, crap health care on SVG or attack Buccamant Bay and Ames?

  26. Anonymous

    All of the above “Katherine ” !!!!!!!!

  27. Darrien Ollivierre

    Its really sad to hear that this young man had an accident. I really hope he recovers well and in short time.

    I have no idea of the true circumstances of his accident and only just heard about it. When I took my first diving lesson at Indigo six months ago, it was a wonderful experience. The staff was great and took really good care of me – plus it was my birthday. I actually never gave thought to insurance risk etc and what responsibility the shop would have if anything went wrong. As a risky recreational activity, I just assumed I was doing at my own risk (so this is something for me to think about in light of all these comments above).

    I do think it’s about time we had our own decompression chamber. Over the past 40 years or so, numerous divers from Bequia, many of whom are extended family (and including my cousin), have used the services of the chamber in Barbados. If we are looking to promote diving in our waters, then we should improve our capacity to deal with accidents.

    Now might also be a good time for us to ensure that all our legislation regarding diving is in keeping with industry standards.

    Best wishes Richie.

  28. John West

    @ David Inkey
    Everything I said is correct. I am for real and John West is my real name. My email address is Please email me with your real name and contact information, or post it here. I’ve done Bush Bar a few times – great location and some “interesting people”. I for one are not going to comment on some second hand remark reported by someone else. As I’ve said Kay does a great job and is thoroughly professional. She might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a good job she does all the same. The anonymity of this forum has allowed too many people to make vitriolic and libelous attacks on others without being in possession of the facts let alone reason and the common decency of establishing the facts before posting. Richie’s incident was sad/unfortunate/self inflicted, but nothing to do with his employer. Good to hear that he’s improving daily and is on the mend.

  29. Matt Ames

    Give it a rest. Are you saying this is the most terrible thing that’s happened in SVG recently? I think not.

  30. John Smith

    I am quite annoyed by the hatred of some of these comments.
    I have worked with Kay Wilson and she is extremely professional and has the utmost integrity.
    It feels like some people on this forum have problems with a successful woman in the dive industry.
    This was an accident and accidents do happen.
    We all hope that Richie makes a complete recovery and can return home and to his friends and family.
    David Inkey, get a Life!!

  31. John West

    @John Smith – Agreed – am awaiting response/email and/or from “David Inkey” with real name and contact information from my last post.

  32. Anonymous

    I think that Harlequin have upset so many people in the Caribbean, and of course the UK, that anyone involved gets tarnished with same brush of basically being crooked/taking shortcuts/arrogance or whatever. As a Caribbean person who sees Harlequin as an embarrassment for us all, I would not tarnish Indigo with the same brush and would not make a judgement without the facts which I for one do not have. Her replies seem reasonable to me and hopefully the lad recovers fully.

    The fact is, I would not employ anyone who has worked at senior levels with Harlequin, I know far too much about what they have done and tried to do in this region which is shocking, but Indigo is separate as far as I am aware and would not hold anything against them.