The Medical Examiners Office has identified the 57-year-old man who drowned when his catamaran overturned in waters off Kualoa Ranch last week as John Ross-Duggan — an accomplished sailor.
The website Catsailor reported that Ross-Duggan, a quadriplegic, died doing what he loved — “sailing his Hobie Getaway in the surf with friends when they apparently capsized.”
The website added “Ross-Duggan “was sailing with two crew and after the capsize, the mast came down. John was trapped under the boat. One of the sailors was a trained EMT, but was not able to revive him.
Ross-Duggan was an accomplished Hobie Catamaran racer and even after a car accident at the age of 23, which caused the paralysis, “continued to follow his passion for sailing.
The website listed his accomplishments — 1998 World Disabled Sailing Gold Medalist; 1996 US SAILING’S Male Athlete of the Year; 1996 Paralympic Bronze Medalist; 1996 Hobie 16 Trapseat World Champion; and 1977 Hobie 16 National Champion.
In a 1996 profile, the Los Angeles Times reported that sailing has been a big part his life since he was 7. By the time he was a teenager, Ross-Duggan was doing well in California regattas, and at 15 he was seventh in the 1970 Hobie Nationals in Honolulu.
The newspaper said an automobile accident in 1978, after he had completed his third year of medical school, left him a quadriplegic. Six months later, after rehabilitation, he returned to medical school. Ross-Duggan went to the UC Irvine Medical Center for his four-year residency, then to Parkland Hospital in Dallas with a fellowship in neuroradiology before settling in Orlando.
Paramedics took Ross-Duggan n critical condition to a hospital Feb. 23 after he was rescued at 3:50 p.m. He died an hour later.
The medical examiner also said that the victim had injured his upper spinal cord.