The passing of a 25-year-old resident of Taguig City made headlines this week after the real cause of his death became controversial on social media.
Miguel Gabriel Ruiz died in the arms of his fellow tourist and boyfriend Travis Millard while on vacation in Coron, Palawan on Friday, August 14. While Coron Municipal Police Office reported that Ruiz drowned, his relatives and friends claim otherwise. According to them, the media is trying to cover up Ruiz’s actual cause of death which is stonefish poisoning.
As of this writing, an investigation on Ruiz’s death is currently being carried out while his body has been subjected to an autopsy.
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Police report: Ruiz died of drowning
In a story published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the Coron police authorities reported that Ruiz drowned while snorkelling in the waters off Barangay Tagumpay. Ruiz was brought to Coron District Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
However, Police Senior Inspector Emilio Parangue of the Coron Municipal Police Office was not able provide information on how Ruiz drowned.
Family and friends share “real” story on social media
Ruiz’s relatives and friends immediately expressed their disappointment after the initial police report regarding the victim’s death was released.
In a Facebook post by Chris Chug, he stressed that Ruiz didn’t die of drowning. Based on Millard’s account, the victim allegedly stepped on coral causing him to experience difficulty in breathing and extreme discomfort. A report by Popular Manila revealed that Ruiz probably died of stonefish poisoning.
A delirious Ruiz was able to tell Millard that he stepped on something and was having trouble breathing. He later fell unconscious before passing away.
“At some point, me and Miguel separated, about maybe five meters or so, and out of nowhere, he gasped, ‘Travis!’ and then I turned back and he removed his mask and said, ‘I stepped on something and I’m having trouble breathing.’ Those were his exact words,” Millard told ABS-CBN News.
Here’s Millard’s full account of the story.
Moreover, Millard pointed out that there was no drowning involved in the incident.
“I want to make it clear: He did not drown. There was no drowning. This was a case of some ill-prepared tour, lack of preparation,” he told Interaksyon.
Ruiz’s death: A wake-up call for Coron tourism officials?
Ruiz’s family and friends expressed their disappointment in the fact that the Coron tourism authorities didn’t give tourists sufficient warning about the existence of poisonous creatures in the waters off the island. Although the boat men alerted them about the presence of poisonous jelly fish in the area, they failed to warn them about stonefishes.
Moreover, the apparent inability of the Coron District Hospital to handle Ruiz’s case was also an issue for his relatives and friends.
“The Palawan Tourism Board should be held accountable for not informing the tourists well about the poisonous coral reef, stonefish or whatever it is that is found in Coron. Shame on that hospital/clinic they arrived at. According to his boyfriend, doctors and nurses were unprepared and unrehearsed,” Chug wrote in his post.
Autopsy Reports Out in Two Weeks
As soon as Ruiz’s body arrived on a chartered flight to Manila on Saturday, an autopsy was conducted by Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory. The findings of the report will be released in two weeks.