The Indian River Medical Examiner is reporting a New York man died from a broken neck and drowning last week in Vero Beach.
The official cause of death for Stanley Quinn, 58, was released this morning.
According to medical examiner Roger Mittleman, Quinn suffered “blunt cervical injury” and “contributory drowning.” Mittleman only examined the body and did not perform an autopsy.
Vero Beach Police Captain Kevin Martin said Quinn was facing the beach when a large wave hit him from behind on Dec. 29 at South Beach Park.
“He was knocked down,” Martin said. “He was kind of driven into the ground, like a diving accident.”
Martin said lifeguards pulled Quinn out of the water and performed CPR. He was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, but died over the weekend.
The National Weather Service in Melbourne had a moderate risk of rip currents listed for that day, but senior forecaster Randy Lascody said the incident wasn’t related to rip currents.
“This was definitely from breaking waves,” Lascody said. “He was in pretty shallow water right where the waves were braking and he must have gotten one of these larger waves from a set and just got knocked right over into the ocean bottom.”
Rip current-related deaths are much more common, Lascody said. In the past 25 years, there have been 113 deaths because of rip currents from Volusia County to Martin County. Just 17 deaths were considered caused by waves, Lascody said.
“In this case, the ocean probably looked pretty good to go into, but these kinds of waves happen,” he said. “A lot of folks can probably picture themselves in this situation and it’s a reminder you have to be at your peak awareness in the surf zone.”