UPDATE: Newfoundland businessman dies in Dominican Republic while on vacation

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 A little town on Newfoundland’s east coast is grieving after a well-known businessman and volunteer died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

A family member said Derrick Hayley of Bonavista was pulled from the waters of the Punta Cana region in the Dominican on Monday after an incident involving a boat while he was snorkelling.

Hayley’s brother-in-law, Tim Goyetche, said the 46-year-old man had been on holiday at the Majestic Colonial resort with his wife, one of his three sons and several friends.

“Even though the cause of death seems apparent, until the police investigation and autopsy is completed, I can only state that there was an incident in the water while Derrick was snorkelling involving a boat Monday evening,” Goyetche read from a prepared statement.

“Although many tourists who were doctors valiantly attempted to save him, he did pass away.”

Goyetche said no other details are being released at this time.

In Bonavista, a tight-knit community of 4,000 people, there has been an outpouring of support, he added.

“It is quite apparent that he was loved and respected by all.”

Hayley owned a local construction company and a garage and was a busy volunteer in minor hockey, said Bonavista Mayor Betty Fitzgerald.

The annual Fireman’s Ball, planned for this Saturday, has been cancelled, she said. One of Hayley’s sons is a volunteer firefighter.

“No one expected this,” Fitzgerald said of a community that has reacted with shocked disbelief at the news.

“They went on holiday, and he’s coming back now in a coffin. It’s hard for us, it’s hard for his family.”

Goyetche said Hayley’s body was being flown back to Newfoundland late Wednesday, accompanied by his wife.


Earlier story

The Canadian Press — Bonavista

A family member of a man from Newfoundland says his brother-in-law has died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

Tim Goyetche says Derrick Hayley was pulled from the waters of the Punta Cana region in the Dominican on Monday after an incident involving a boat while he was snorkelling.

He says Hayley, who was a businessman in the community of Bonavista on Newfoundland’s east coast, had been vacationing with his wife, one of his three sons and several friends.

Goyetche says no other details are being released until an investigation and autopsy are complete.

He says other tourists at the Majestic Colonial resort who were doctors tried to save the 46-year-old man’s life at the scene.

He says Hayley owned a construction company and a garage in Bonavista and was a well loved volunteer who was active in minor hockey.


Earlier story

A Bonavista man in his late 40s has died in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, while snorkeling with family and friends who were vacationing there.

The tragedy has shocked the town.

The man, whose name has not been released, was staying at the Majestic Elegance resort.



Organizations: Dominican Republic

Geographic location: Bonavista, Punta Cana

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Recent comments

  • Steve
    May 09, 2013 - 16:59

    I offer my deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. Hayley. I too was there. I helped bring Mr. Hayley ashore and helped perform CPR on Mr. Hayley until paramedics arrived (30 minutes after we got him ashore). I just want to say that everyone that tried to same Mr. Hayley did so with a level of compassion and intensity that I can only hope for if I were in a similar situation. Some of us performed chest compressions for so long that we could barely feel our arms and were utterly exhausted. I was very disappointed in the response time at the resort. I was also surprised at how slow the staff responded to requests for help. I know my Wife ran off to have someone call the doctor (there are at least two at the resorts). She was turned away by one staff person (we assume because they did not understand English). I still see Mr. Hayley in random moments. I’ll never forget his face or the sound of a woman crying (I assume it was a family member) uncontrollably over my shoulder as I tried to press life into this complete stranger. I hope Mr. Hayley’s family finds peace and closure. I hope they know how much each of us tried to save his life. I’m so very sorry that we could not.

  • Stephanie McElroy
    April 17, 2013 - 16:04

    I too witnessed this tragedy. My husband and I were just getting into the ocean when my husband observed a gentleman swimming towards the man snorkeling.. When the man reached the snorkeler and realized he was unresponsive he yelled for help. My husband David immediately swam to assist. He began CPR in the ocean and began to pull Mr. Hayley into the beach. Two other tourists (one which was a physician) also helped pull him to shore. The tourists were amazing!!! They all took turns performing CPR on Mr. Hayley. I was completely disgusted by the response of the hotel. They did not respond in a timely manner. It took the staff 15 minutes to bring the AED to the beach. And the girl that brought it was walking!!!! My husband yelled a few choice words at her to move her along. And the paramedics did not arrive for at least 30 minutes!!!! I must say how proud of my husband along with the other amazing tourists who fought so hard to save Mr. Hayley's life. I'm just so sorry that he did not survive. May the Hayley family find comfort in knowing that there are so many great people out there that responded to this tragedy without even thinking.

  • Another visiting Newfoundlander
    April 16, 2013 - 11:30

    This was so tragic!!! I was there on the beach when it happened. My son in law was the Marine who swam out and bought him in and he and my husband, along with another man, preformed CPR until a doctor showed up about 15 minutes after. The response time from the resort was horrible!!! Wish their was more we could do. My heart breaks for the family and their friends..... especially those who witnessed it.

  • Sandra
    April 10, 2013 - 14:26

    Deepest sympathy to this Family! But, what on earth happened? Drowned? Heart attack? Shark? I can not imagine what could have happened..none the less-such a tragedy-thinking of you all at this time....

  • Concerned
    April 10, 2013 - 12:32

    First, my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased. This is a very tragic ending to an otherwise special occasion. Second, I just returned from this resort very recently and as soon as I read this article I can picture and feel exactly what happened here as I was recently snorkeling exactly where this man was. At this resort there is a beautiful reef which is literally just at the rope. Basically, the rope is placed right at the start of the reef (assume so guests don't step on it), so the reef is there to be explored and enjoyed, but is just inches to a few feet outside the rope. The problem that I had while snorkeling is that the motor water sports company drives dangersouly close to the rope when they are driving around towing people on tubes (or other inflatable devices). I assume they do this so that other guests can see (advertising for them). My husband and I only snorkelled once during our trip (we usually go every day) because of my fear of exactly this situation. I feel for this man and his family because it very easily could have been me or my husband. Very tragic. Again, my condolences to the family.

  • Leah
    April 10, 2013 - 11:42

    Oh my heavens, talk about a horrific freakish accident, and how suddenly and unexpectedly death does occur sometimes. My very deepest heartfelt condolences and prayers to Mr. Hayley's wife, children, family and friends and everyone in his home community of Bonavista. I am so very, very sorry for your loss.