Tributes to American drowned off Stanley

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2008, 12:00am

Police confirmed yesterday that a body found floating in the water off Stanley Main Beach on Tuesday was an American man who had been missing since falling into the sea during dragon boat races on Sunday.

They did not give his name but he was identified in online tributes as Eric Tutera, 28, from New York.

Tutera disappeared after falling and hitting his head while trying to cross between two pleasure boats full of partying spectators at about 5pm on Sunday.

His floating body was found at around 2pm on Tuesday.

A woman posting on local website said Tutera appeared to have fallen while trying to cross between pleasure boats moored near the beach in a group that included two boats from JP Morgan, one from BNP Paribas and one from Time-Warner.

Liza Lebeda said the boats were filled with revelling expatriates and people jumped from one boat to another on decks slippery from spilt beer and other liquids.

Ms Lebeda, one of the party-goers, said suddenly there was a big 'thud' and a splash followed by a huge commotion.

People started yelling: 'Someone's fallen in the water! Who is it? Help! Someone call an ambulance! And everyone started yelling. 'Eric! Eric can you hear us?'

Some people dived in to search for Tutera, but he disappeared in the murky water as a group of people sped off in a speedboat to alert police.

Police boats surrounded the area and a helicopter flew overhead, but the crowd had lost hope after 20 to 30 minutes.

An anonymous message left on the same website from someone who had known Tutera since childhood said there were no words to express the sudden loss of someone so young and promising. It said the devastating news had hit hard at home and he would be truly missed by a great deal of people.

Another message from someone who had known Tutera and his family since elementary school said he had always been a 'wonderful person with an amazing personality and the ability to cheer up those around him. His memory will live forever'.