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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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What was expected to be an adventure for a United States couple stranded in Antigua by Covid-19 turned tragic when a 52-year-old woman died after an accident at sea.

Ellen Tischbin, of New Jersey, was reportedly hit by a motorised dinghy in the waters at Falmouth Harbour at around 3.30pm on Friday. She was rushed by ABSAR to the Medical Surgical Associates clinic for treatment but died on Saturday night after undergoing emergency surgery.

The keen sailors are said to have regularly traversed the Caribbean, enjoying the region’s sights and sounds.

They were expected to cruise to Trinidad and Tobago after a stop in the twin island state, but were unable to leave Antigua as planned due to the travel ban imposed to curtail the coronavirus spread.

The couple, who lived on their yacht Miclo 3 at Falmouth Harbour, had intended to rent a villa at Jolly Beach for the upcoming hurricane season and spend their summer holidays in Antigua.

Tischbin’s husband Robert was too distraught to speak when contacted. But a close friend of the couple said the accident occurred when Ellen decided to take a “quick swim because she loved exercising”.

“She’s a real fit woman,” he said, adding, “She was the most caring and loving woman I have ever known. It was a pleasure knowing her. She was just full of life and full of love.”

Pleas for emergency blood donations flooded social media in the aftermath of the accident.

Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez was one of the individuals called on Friday afternoon to donate to help save the woman’s life.

Fernandez’s blood type is O-negative, which is considered universal.

He said he was very upset to learn Tischbin had died after all efforts to save her failed.

“I am deeply saddened,” he told Observer. “Every life is sacred and it took a personal connection for me because I was one of the individuals called to donate blood to her. I also met her husband because he was donating at the same time,” he recalled.

Fernandez said the tragedy was also extremely sad for the country’s tourism industry.

“In this case it was an accident but it is a big loss. It’s a sad loss for the sector,” Fernandez said.

The tourism minister said because of Covid-19 there are “more yachts than usual” in the area. Additionally, these vessels are docked closely together.

“The only advice is that we have to be very careful whether on water or on land,” he added. Police spokesman Inspector Frankie Thomas confirmed the incident was under investigation. He added that 68-year-old British sailor William Lyne, who apparently struck Tischbin with his dinghy while returning to his yacht, was assisting with inquiries.

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