Captain Matteo Russo, 36, and his 59-year-old father-in-law, John Orlando, died within 10 minutes of being thrown into the 5.5 degrees celsius cold waters of Middle Bank, off the Massachusetts coast. Autopsies on both men conclude that they died of drowning in a matter of seconds. Both bodies were found without lifejackets or other personal protective equipment.
The final report does not make reference to cold shock, a condition in which muscle and breath control is lost, may lead to a coronary emergency, and which can lead to drowning, and is the most immediate hazard when immersed in cold water.
Cold shock occurs over a period of seconds. It is unlikely that the men would have been able to climb aboard the liferaft, which had inflated and deployed enough to be used.
A casualty who survives cold shock and is wearing a lifejacket, can survive an hour or more in cold water until hypothermia, the lowering of body core-temperature to an unsustainable level, occurs, which significantly increases the chances of rescue. Continue reading »