A British woman snorkelling from a dive-boat off the island of Cozumel in Mexico has sustained serious injuries, after being struck by its propeller as she tried to climb back aboard.
Yoga instructor Amor Armitage had been snorkelling and freediving on a shallow reef on 17 December while her husband Chase, a stuntman working on a film in Mexico, was with friends scuba-diving from the boat.
Starting to feel cold, she swam back to the ladder, but says that music was playing on board and the captain not looking in her direction.
Armitage had removed one fin when she realised that the boat had started moving. She has described what happened next: “Everything seems to slow down as I feel the boat’s propeller hitting my abdomen, genitals and legs. My body feels heavy and I see the boat moving away from me.”
The captain heard her scream and on his instructions she managed to reach the ladder again, at which point he told her that she would have to pull herself aboard. “I looked down and see my insides out, I feel there's no chance I can pull myself up alone,” she said.
However, she reported that she did manage to haul herself up the ladder and lay on the deck as the scuba divers returned to the boat. Although she had suffered deep cuts to her abdomen, medical staff later told her that she had been fortunate in sustaining a blood clot in her femoral artery, the main vessel supplying blood to the lower body.
This prevented her from losing a critical amount of blood before she could be taken ashore in the boat and on to a local hospital. During a four-hour operation surgeons worked to repair severe lacerations to both legs and her torso.
Further major surgery was later carried out by a specialist from Cancun to deal with the blood clot, but following complications Armitage was placed in intensive care and the surgeon had to return to carry out a third operation.
At the start of the new year she remained stable in intensive care but still considered at high risk, hoping to be able to return to the couple’s home in Basingstoke in January.
Having no insurance cover for such an incident they have so far raised more than £55,000 of a £100,000 target through crowd-funding to cover the £60,000-plus hospital bills already accrued, the cost of an air ambulance home for a programme of skin and bone grafts, and what could be a period of rehabilitation of at least six months.