July 8, 2002 – A young Chicago stock trader who did not know how to swim drowned off Honeymoon Beach, one of Caneel Bay Resort's seven beaches, police and National Park Service rangers said Monday.
Sherman Galbreath, 26, who with a female companion was a guest at the resort, was in the water with her on Emancipation Day learning one of the first steps in swimming, called "the dead man's float," V.I. National Park Chief Ranger Steve Clark said.
According to Clark, "This young lady was floating on her back, and the guy said, 'Hey, how do you do that?' — and he was a big guy. She stuck her arms out so she was supporting him, and she started to walk out" farther into the water. "She stepped off a 15-foot ledge."
The pair plunged into the deeper water. The woman surfaced and looked around for her companion. Clark said another vacationer at the beach saw what had happened and went to the rescue. He recovered Galbreath from the bottom of the bay but could not revive him with artificial resuscitation, the ranger said. Emergency medical technicians were called to the scene, but they, too were unsuccessful in reviving Galbreath.
"In a matter of seconds, it was over," Clark said.
Galbreath's body was taken to the morgue at Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas. An autopsy determined that drowning was the cause of death, Clark said.
Word of Galbreath's drowning came as a shock to relatives on the U.S. mainland. "We are at a loss why Sherman would jump into unknown water when he could not swim," his uncle, Ken West, said.
Clark said the topography of the sea floor is constantly changing. "Just because a beach is 4 feet deep today" doesn't mean it will stay that way, he said, adding, "It could be 10 feet deep tomorrow because of beach dynamics."
Galbreath was an associate trader with Lehman Brothers in Chicago. He joined the company as a trainee after attending the University of Chicago, where he played on the school's football team.
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