Hunter's Story



As you go through every day life, you never think for a moment that it could happen to you. These terrible tragedies only happen to other people, because you could never even imagine the pain of losing a child. It's too much to bare even thinking about. But the worst did happen to my family. I hope you will read on in the hopes that this story may save your child or a family member's life someday.


On July 16, 2007, our worst nightmare became a reality. We took our family and a few friends to the Coco Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico on vacation. Our 9-year-old son, Hunter, was with us. We had been there for two days, having a great time. Upon his grandmother's arrival to the resort, he kindly ordered her favorite drink at the bar. She waited in the room for him to deliver her luggage to her, because he loved to do those things, but he didn't come back.                   


Donny (Hunter’s dad) and his daughter Steely were just getting back to the dock from snorkeling, when they both received calls to get down to the pool immediately. When everyone arrived, it was a horrendous scene. Hunter was lying lifeless on the ground while two American tourists were performing CPR on him. Donny went frantic begging to know what had happened. Apparently, he was playing in the three connected hot tubs and there was no one else in them at the time. He lost his footing, hit his head and was knocked unconscious, then drowned without anyone noticing for at least 10 minutes.


When the witnesses, including Hunter's family, were asking for help, none of the lifeguards or resort pool staff knew CPR. That is when the tourists, that just so happened to be a doctor and nurse, began performing CPR on their own. After about 40 minutes of pumping water from Hunter's lungs, they asked for a defibrillator and oxygen to take the next potentially life-saving steps, but there was none on site available anywhere. By this time, an ambulance had been called. It took them an hour to arrive. When they got there, they still had no medical equipment whatsoever available.


Basically, they came to retrieve a body and had no intentions of saving a life. It appeared they just wanted to clear the scene and move the body quickly to avoid any media or keep as many people as possible from witnessing the tragedy. Since the Mexican officials came so unprepared, you would think they would be gracious enough to allow the American tourists to keep performing CPR, at least until the family was satisfied that no more could be done to save Hunter.  To Donny and his family's horror, they forced them to stop doing CPR. Donny begged the officials to let them continue. The doctor told Donny he had revived people after an hour or more of CPR, when oxygen and a defibrillator were available, of course. Donny picked his son up in his arms begging them to please do something. They told Donny to "put the body down”. He refused. He said, "No one can tell me not to touch my son”. The officials drew their guns and said that if he didn't put him down, they would arrest him. After Donny set his lifeless son on the ground, the Mexican officials pulled Hunter’s eye open, poked a careless finger to his chest for a second, then said, "He's dead, there's no need to do CPR”. They then carried him across the entire pool.  As if this wasn’t handled badly enough, the Mexican officials, to use a nice word, placed his body in the back of, not an ambulance, but a pickup truck with a gem cover on the back. (I’m sure you've seen something similar used for construction on our roads.) In complete disbelief, this was how the death of their son was treated.


Donny later went to the funeral home to see his son. The man at the funeral home refused very hatefully. Donny, desperate to see him, offered the man $200.00. He greedily accepted and let him see Hunter's body. After all was said and done, Donny walked out without paying the man who didn't dare argue.


Hunter was an amazing little boy full of love for his family and friends. He loved baseball, football, and had the hopes and dreams that all children are entitled to. His life was cut short by this tragedy. Hunter’s family received no compassion from the COCO BEACH RESORT, the resort staff or the Mexican officials. Hunter’s little body was treated with such disregard.


No matter how great of a swimmer your child is, do not let them out of your sight for a second. But all that aside, research the hotels and resorts you choose to stay at, especially in other countries. Ask them what medical precautions they take for their guests. Ask if they have oxygen and defibrillators. You never know when you or a loved one may need them. Check to see if their pool staff is certified in CPR. If they answer “no” to any of these questions, then they do not care about the safety of their guests. They do not deserve your money or trust as a customer. The Berry family, still to this day, have received no apology from the COCO BEACH RESORT IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN or FUN JET. We have also posted a similar story on Trip Advisor, and they deleted our entire forum. Their slogan is "Get the truth, Then Go”.  I guess they only want their readers to have the "pretty truth”. There are a lot of politics involved, but this is an injustice to the 20 million North American tourists for which Mexico reaps financial benefits from annually. Mexico contributes to 1/3 of all “non-natural” deaths of U.S. citizen’s abroad in the world! Our family believes that it is every citizen’s right to be aware of the unnecessary deaths of children while vacationing in Mexico. It should be the right of all citizens to know how frequently these deaths occur. Mexico needs to enforce safety standards for all resorts/hotels as a means to prevent such senseless and unnecessary deaths. There are many people to be held accountable here, and to get justice will be a long process. But the best way we can preserve Hunter's precious memory is by getting his REAL story out to as many people as possible in order to save other people's lives.


We are writing from our hearts to ask your assistance to make sure that no other family has to endure the personal tragedy that our family was forced to endure. Please help us do that by passing this email on to as many people as possible, whether you know us personally or not.


The Family of Hunter Berry