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DIVER HUBBY 'EATEN BY SHARKS' IN CAYMAN ISLANDS; Wife flies out after Andrew goes missing.

Byline: ROD CHAYTOR

A HEARTBROKEN wife flew to the Caribbean yesterday after her husband was feared dead in shark-infested waters.

Andrew Collins went missing while diving off the Cayman Islands.

His wife Pamela was due to join him for the New Year to settle into a new home on the paradise isle.

Instead, she will attend his memorial service after search parties gave up the hunt for his body.

Nurse Pamela, 37, from Drogheda, Co Louth, said yesterday: "I'm lost for words. This is such a tragedy.

"He has gone missing doing the thing he loved. He was so happy here.

"He was a very special person who will hold a special place in my heart for ever. This is very hard to deal with. Because his body hasn't been found there is no real end."

British diving instructor Andrew, 35, is presumed dead and there are fears he may have been attacked by a shark.

Authorities have not ruled out the poss-ibility he fell down a 3,000-feet drop known as the Bloody Bay Wall.

Pamela met Andrew in 1996 while they were both working in Saudi Arabia.

They married last year in a quayside ceremony on Cayman Brac before the bride returned to Drogheda.

Former RAF electronics engineer Andrew went missing on December 19 while supervising a group of four US tourists off Little Cayman island.

They were diving in shallow 30-feet waters but were swimming near to where the seabed plunges over a vertical cliff.

Mike Cansell, of the Royal Cayman Islands police, said: "He told the Americans he was diving down to locate the entrance to an underwater tunnel for them to swim through.

"But that was the last they ever saw of him. When he failed to return they raised the alarm."

The group had been swimming among turtles, manta rays and sharks but the police chief said there was nothing to suggest an attack.

An extensive five-day air-and-sea search by 35 police and navy divers failed to throw up any sign of the missing diver or his equipment.

They were helped by a light aircraft combing a 400-square-mile area.

The police chief added: "He was a very experienced diver and what happened is a mystery.

"The area where he disappeared is used day-in day-out by divers.

"All the companies have been urged to contact the authorities if they see anything that might be relevant."

The missing man's father, Michael Collins, a logistics manager from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, believes his son took ill underwater.

He thinks Andrew was unable to get back to the surface or stop himself being swept by offshore currents over the cliff.

He said: "We're assuming he had a heart attack or stroke in the water.

"Andrew led a tremendously adventurous and exciting life. Everybody was proud of him. He was a lovely man. Diving was the great love of his life. He was very, very experienced. He died in a place he loved, among people he loved. That is a great comfort for us.

"But there is no closure because there is no body. It is very difficult for everyone."

A memorial service was held last Sunday on the island of Cayman Brac, Mr Collins' home since 1999.

The missing man took up scuba diving during his 10 years RAF service after joining from school in 1984.

Assistant manager Dania Carter, 30,said: "Andrew was a great guy. I worked with him closely. He was always friendly and upbeat. Everybody is in shock."

Diving pal 60-year-old Ron Kessinger said:"The underwater drop is known locally as Bloody Bay Wall. It just goes straight down.

"The area is very popular with tourists and there are no obvious hazards.There are sharks but attacks are almost unheard of.

"There is a natural, gentle, current which goes out over the wall.

"We can only assume that Andrew was suddenly taken ill and got carried over it - but, really, it's a complete mystery."

The diver was still officially listed as missing yesterday but the search has been scaled down after two weeks.

A British consulate spokesman said: "There have been no reports since his disappearance and sadly he is missing, presumed dead."

CAPTION(S):

RESORT: Sandy beach on Cayman Islands in Caribbean where diving instructor Andrew lived; LOST: Andrew Collins, 35, is presumed dead; DEADLY: Sharks roam the waters
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 2, 2002
Words:724
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