Dr Neil Burnie Dies In Marine Incident

November 11, 2014

[Updated] Police have confirmed that a man died during what they said was a “marine accident” in the waters off of Horseshoe Bay today [Nov 11]. Police are expected to release further details later today, and we will update as able.

police horseshoe bay

Update 2.14pm: The police have just officially named the victim as Dr. Neil Burnie, who was a well-known veterinarian and colourful character with an unmatched passion for Bermuda’s marine wildlife.

Police Media Manager Dwayne Caines said, “He was free diving in the waters off of Horseshoe Bay when he ran into difficulty, this resulted in divers in the area going down to assist him.”

We will update with the full police statement as able.

Dr Neil Burnie Bermuda (3)

Update 3.21pm: Video statement from the police

Update Nov 12, 7.41am: A Bermuda Maritime Operations spokesperson said, “Bermuda Radio received a report on VHF Ch16 from a local fishing boat advising a diver in difficulty off Horseshoe Beach, South Shore. Marine Police units Rescue I, Heron II, and an ambulance were tasked to the scene.

“The local diver was free diving just offshore, helping recover lobster traps lost in the recent hurricanes. He was discovered on the sea bed in an unresponsive state and brought ashore where CPR commenced, with subsequent transfer to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Sadly, shortly after midday it was confirmed that the casualty could not be revived.”

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Category: Accidents and fires, All, Environment, News

Comments (80)

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  1. appman says:

    RIP oceanvet

    • BettyTrump says:

      This is really sad news! I am struck to hear it! He was a great doctor and took great care of my beloved dog until her death. I am struggling to come to grips with this news. May his family and the staff at Endsmeet be strengthened during this difficult time. God bless.

      • 32n64w says:

        Agreed Betty. I hope your dog didnt suffer too much.

        Dr. Burnie was a tremendously positive force in the community who gave so much to Bermuda. He will be missed.

  2. Purple Koolaid says:

    Rest In Peace

  3. Mark O says:


  4. Tired says:

    So sad, may God Bless his Family.

  5. Annie says:

    OH-MY-GOD! This is awful!!!

  6. Sharon F says:

    Sad, sad, day

  7. wot2do says:

    RIP Bones. The world is a poorer place without you and your boundless energy and enthusiasm. Godspeed my friend.

  8. Guess Who says:

    The best spirited guy you ever want to meet. He loved animals, people and life. R.I.P. Condolences to the Burnie Family.

  9. Really??? says:

    RIP, sad day for Bermuda’s animal world! And for those who knew him! Condolences to his family and his co-workers!

  10. Wayne J says:

    i can’t begin to put the right words to such a tragic ending of a man who was so full of life….fun…passion for his work and Bermuda’s fragile ecosystem.

    Dr Neil Burnie you have left a legacy,….a lasting memory and many moments if smiles and laughter in the many lives you have touched.

    May your memory live on and your soul rest in peace.


  11. daniel says:

    Can not believe this sad news. I dived with him many times. He was a good friend and safe fellow diver. RIP Neil…to early to leave us

  12. Stephen Hayward st says:

    Totally shocked and staggered. Awful news. May he rest in peace.

  13. Andy says:

    Gone off to play in much calmer waters… RIP “Ocean Vet” you will not be forgotten, your work will live on.

  14. Floyd Pitcher says:

    WOW!!!!! Shocked and saddened at the loss of one special (character) person. My condolences to the family

  15. H Gardner says:

    This is so sad. We are all poorer for losing him.

  16. tony brannon says:

    I am so sad…..me and Charlie will long miss you…. play that sax in heaven…..

  17. OB One says:

    What sad news. Neil wou will be sadly missed by thousands of people and animals whose lives you had touched. RIP my Brother.

  18. Hannah says:

    :( …. damn. RIP Dr. Burnie.

  19. Catherine Wakely says:

    Such a loss for Bermuda – my condolences to the family – a great and wonderful character full of love for people and animals – you will live on through your influence on so very many lives. We will miss you.

  20. Creamy says:

    Shocking and very sad news. My condolences to his family and friends.

  21. Frannybda says:

    RIP. Of my god what an awesome person. So sad!! Prayers go out to the family’

  22. Xaxa says:

    RIP, Dr. Burnie,
    You will be sorely missed. What a dreadful loss!

  23. biggadon says:

    OMG I cant believe this …shocking…..he was my dog and cats vet !

  24. High road says:

    RIP Dr Burnie

  25. Simon Horrell says:

    I am in total shock what a great guy so much energy, I used to windsurf with Neil he was always so good at everything he did and so much passion for life, I will miss seeing him and cutting his hair, my thoughts are with his family, I just don’t know what to Say, l will miss you man.

  26. Mel says:

    You have touched our lives and made it richer for knowing you. We all have a story to share being with you Sax man. You had more life in you then most of us put together. We send our love to your family.

  27. Hansel says:

    Omg this is so heart breaking. RIP Neil / Ocean Vet / animal and music lover, you will be sorely missed.

  28. cavegirl says:

    Heartbroken…he was such an awesome vet and wonderful person. He had a love for animals and life. I remember during one visit he sat on the floor with our dog and he started to sing a song he had written about his dog. RIP Dr Burnie.

  29. Ronnie Chameau says:

    (Neil RIP) Our friend since you arrived in Bermuda dam we can’t Believe
    you have left us all so soon.

    say hello to Spike!

  30. Evie says:

    May God bring some comfort to his family and friends at this time.

  31. RIP says:

    My condolences to the family….may he RIP

  32. James Hallett says:

    God Bless you Neil – you did so much for us all, lived life to the fullest, but had so much more – so tragic.

  33. Runner says:

    Rest in peace good one!

  34. pjs says:

    RIP Neil. Truly a remarkable person. Was honoured to have know him.

  35. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    My condolences are with family, friends and all who knew him. His passing is a huge loss.

  36. John Nicol says:

    Rip Neil

  37. bda says:

    So sad. Bermuda has lost a wonderful, compassionate, full of life man. My heart is heavy.

  38. Marilyn Mann says:

    What a huge talent, from newts to tiger sharks my wonderful, brilliant and funny cousin loved them all. A big personality so loved by us all. RIP dear Neil , our family has suffered a huge lost. God bless you. Much love and condolences to Katrin.

  39. Milan Oleksak says:

    What devastating and sad news! Bermuda has now lost two iconic figures this year: Teddie Tucker and Dr Neil Burnie.
    Both died while pursuing their love and passion for the ocean.
    Condolences to the Burnie family. We will miss his infectious enthusiasm, friendship and boundless energy!
    RIP Neil

  40. campervan says:

    what sad news to hear.
    His candle burned brighter than most.
    Utter legend.

  41. Margaret Smith says:

    I will never forget Neil’s comforting words to me at Endsmeet years ago, “You are never ready to say good bye to the ones you love . . .”. Well Neil was right, as your family, your friends, your colleagues, your clients and your patients were not ready to say good by to you, because you gave us all so much & had so much more to give . . . You will be missed. Rest in Peace as you journey on to that next adventure beyond that Rainbow Bridge.

  42. Sickofantz says:

    Few People were as loved. You gave a wonderful piece of yourself to everyone. What a full life, but still cut short.

  43. Nick Field says:

    I last saw Neil 25 years ago and yet I’m so shocked and saddened by this news – testament to the kind of man he was. I remember windsurfing with him and him showing me basic notes when I tried to learn to play saxophone. I will always remember meeting him at the zoo near Flatts, when he was using an industrial sander and fibreglass to fix the shell of a giant tortoise! Neil, you were an inspiration and a shining light who will never be forgotten by those who knew you. My heartfelt condolences to your family.

  44. Jon Burnie says:

    To my magic and mad brother. Swim free for ever more.

  45. Ringmaster says:

    Shocked by the news. I can’t add to the expressions of condolence already posted by others. RIP and entertain heaven as you entertained earth.

  46. James Rego says:

    I’am shocked and devistated, heartbroken for his family, colleagues and friends. Hope to see you on the other side.

  47. Raymond Ray says:

    On behalf of my wife Reming, myself and the Bordens I do take this opportunity to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Neil Burnie. Gone yes, but never to be forgotten…

  48. Sterling says:

    Rest in peace my doctor “Burny” … Alley and I shall yowl your passing this evening.


  49. janet grayston says:

    I am hoping that the tragic news of Neil Burnie is just a bad dream and we will awake to find it is a dream. I will always remember the loving care he gave to my dogs over the years. We will miss him. I guess God needed his services for all of the animals in heaven..

    Thank you for everything Neil. RIP

  50. Ed Williams says:

    Words are not so available to me right now, as I am trying to digest this very sad news. Apart for Neil’s zest for life and his passionate approach to life, Neil left his passion with each person he came into contact with and we are all better for knowing him. His tenacious approach to finding out what was wrong with our pets and his commitment to helping them through their illnesses, always gave us the comfort that our pets were in the right hands. Our sincere condolences to his family, who we thank for sharing him with us.
    He will be sorely missed by all of his colleagues and patients…RIP Neil

  51. Pure Madness!!!! says:

    RIP Dr. Burnie, Condolences to his family and friends. Good Soul, Gone Too Soon….

  52. Paul Singh says:

    Sir- known Dr Burnie for over 25yrs- He looked after our daughter’s pets for many years. Very tragic to lose him as he has so much to offer in marine sciences!!

  53. Sad says:

    A man that truly lived life to the fullest.

    A sad day for all humans and animals alike.

    RIP mate.

  54. David Boalch says:

    So sad to hear this devastating news of my wonderful cousin, you will be sorely missed by your family and countless friends, what a sad day. You lived life to the full and more, God speed be with you. Our love and thoughts are with dear Katrin and family

  55. Paul Singh says:

    RIP DR Burnie- you’ve made a great contribution to Bermuda- thanks for
    looking after our daughter’s many pets over the years!!

  56. imyourGOD says:

    This is the kind of Bermudian that we should value, we needed people like him. As opposed to other types of Bermudians

  57. Rosie Marangiello says:

    Wonderful man, rest in peace, sad day.

  58. Lisa Outerbridge says:

    such a sad day for Neils family and Bda what a huge loss.
    He certainly is joining many 4 legged friends at rainbow bridge for sure, my 18 year old Molly is waiting for him there, Neil recently helped her along to rainbow bridge. RIP Neil, what a guy x

  59. John Steele says:

    My sincere condolences to Neil’s family. A larger than life, brilliant, whirlwind of a man. We are all richer for having known him.

  60. Eric Hirschberg says:

    I’m just numb. Neil was one of those people who seemed invincible.
    I can’t imagine Bermuda without him.

  61. Susie O. says:

    Dr. Burnie you were the best. I took my angel cat to you on May 21 and you were so gentle and loving to her. You found the lump in her throat. The next morning you called it was worse than we both thought. You put her to sleep. I screamed and you held back too for you had put your precious dog down at midnight. Thanks for your love and passion. God be with your family…

  62. Ronnie Viera says:

    Such shocking news to try and digest today. He was such an amazing person and will be a huge loss! His love of animals and marine life was always great to see and read about in his articles. Condolences to his family!

  63. Terry says:

    Condolences to the family. Don’t know the Gentleman but he must have been held in high esteem.

  64. Lee says:

    Neil in February you came to our home to put our dog to sleep because she was very sick and terrified of the clinic. You told us the hardest and best thing we could do for her was to decide when the right time was for her to move on. You made it so much easier for us and she just slipped away gently with us all by her side. But your time on this earth was cut way short – you had so much more to do and to give to our community. you really were the best. We will miss you so much. Condolences to your family. Thanks for sharing such a big man with us.

  65. Erin says:

    Ahh Neil, I suppose you left us doing exactly what you loved to do. I just saw you the other day running through town barefoot and had to smile and shake my head at yet another one of your charming quirks! May your soul exhale…

    To the Burnie family – Neil was a tremendous help to me through the loss of two of my dogs within a two year span. He sat on the floor with me after hours and sang to my 18 month old puppy as his organs failed and we decided to put him to sleep. Seeing a young, devastated lost girl there with just a collar in my hand – he graciously offered to take care of his 80 lb body for me.

    He asked permission to do a post mortem exam to figure out what went wrong… as he was determined to know. And he did. He then called me to let me know the results and provided words of comfort in a time where losing my dog was so much more than losing a pet.

    He was a tremendous soul – compassionate, kind, but without an ounce of BS in him. If the news was bad, he gave it to you straight but in love.

    He is a loss to the community at large – but be assured his light shone brightly! May he go on to shine on another horizon now.

  66. pinkbeach says:

    Sad sad news to all who knew Dr Burnie. It can’t be stated enough how kind and full of life he was, his smile touching everyone he came in contact with. May his family and friends be comforted by the fact that he was and will always be a well-loved member of the Bermudian community.

  67. Kit Kat & Cato & the Kennedy's says:

    Words cannot convey the sadness we feel at the loss of Dr. Burnie, a man who was much admired for his great many and varied passions and his gentle soul. Bermuda has lost a piece of her heart today. Our sincere condolences to his entire family near and far, his friends great and small and to his Endsmeet colleagues. I’m sure I can hear the sound of a lone sax playing in heaven today.

  68. outkasted says:

    I am at a lost for words at this moment. R.I.P Dr. Neil Burnie.

  69. Donna says:

    I am in total shock over this news, Dr. Burnie was the craziest and best vet I have ever known, he has treated my animals I guess for as long as he has been at Endsmeet. I used to tell him I helped build the apartment on top of his office I was there so much over the years, and he always laughed, sat on the floor told me about his knee operations etc. My last conversation with him was February 22nd when we finally decided it was time for my Lady to go. I will forever remember you Dr. B. R.I.P. and my sincere condolences to your family and all the Endsmeet staff. You will be missed.

  70. Tigger's adoptive mom says:

    There is a lump in my throat as I recall how special Dr. Burnie was. Within a few weeks after coming to live with us, Tigger our 3rd hand cat, started filling out at the sides to the point of near waddling when walking. We assumed that it was probably due to being expecting. We put Tigger in the car who was at this point in life petrified of cars and drove down to Dr. Burnie. This was after 6 o’clock in the evening and when we arrived at the vet, therer were no cars there but could hear strains of the saxophone being played. We knocked on the door for awhile and Dr. Burnie finally came to the door. We explained the situation about Tigger’s condition and fear of travelling so Dr. Burnie agreed to take a look at Tigger in the car. He came to the car, reached in, stroked and petted Tigger, then quickly turned Tigger upside down and pronounced with a laugh, “Tigger’s not pregnant! He’s just a big fat boy!” We miss Tigger as he passed away a few years ago and we will certainly remember Dr. Burnie as fondly as always. Dr. Burnie never charged us for the visit either. RIP Dr. Burnie, your light will shine forever.

  71. Fred Spencer says:

    To the windsurfing pit-bull: You left us too early! The island will not be the same without you. Sail those big faces up in heaven. God bless you. My sincerest condolences to your family.

  72. Lee Hasselbring says:

    About 30 years ago I phoned the new Island Vet asking if he could/would come and talk to high school students about the career of being a veterinarian. Neil said something like: “I think I could do that…Would you like me to bring along a 110 pound calf to dissect for the students?” I said: “Yes”. He did and continued doing similar for several years. His friendship over the years included some memorable fishing and diving and music experiences. I was amazed when he came in tears to visit our son dying of cancer in the huge Johns Hopkins hospital…and then proceeded to pull out his saxophone and harmonica and dance up and down the hallways making up songs about “wonderful hospital. beautiful nurses”… bringing cheer to a somber setting. I believe he was brilliant, a talented musician and athlete, a teacher, a showman, a very compassionate person towards humans and other animals, and a good friend. I will miss him, but the manner in which he died might very well be something he would have approved of.

  73. Truth Hurts says:

    Someone who truly made his own luck in life and touched us all with his glowing fun.

  74. Matt Hilliard says:

    RIP Dr. Burnie and thank you for your work.

  75. jono dunnett says:

    I feel privileged to have met Neil Burnie. He was the most life affirming of characters. RIP.

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