Broward cardiologist dies in boating accident in British Virgin Islands

Family struggling with local officials to have body returned for proper burial

BUCK ISLAND, British Virgin Islands – A Broward County cardiologist died last week after he fell from his yacht while vacationing in the British Virgin Islands, his family said.

Family members said Dr. Joseph Horgan, 65, was piloting his yacht around the islands Thursday when he somehow fell overboard and drowned. Family members believe he may have slipped on the boat and hit his head, causing him to be unconscious when he fell into the water.

"He left the dock like he normally would to take the boat out. He was down there because the hurricane damaged his boat, and so he was going to check it out," Jason Horgan, his son, told Local 10 News. "He took the boat out, and apparently he was headed to another part of the islands. Then a few hours later, someone passing by saw his boat just circling in the water, and they obviously knew something was wrong."

Authorities searched the boat but found it abandoned. They found Joseph Horgan's body in the water near Buck Island about an hour later.

Joseph Horgan worked at several area hospitals for Memorial Healthcare System and lived in Davie.

"He was just a generous, caring human being. The reason he went into cardiology he told me was, it was amazing, his answer was just he wanted to help people," Jason Horgan said. "He saw a big problem, a medical problem, and he wanted to go and help people, and that really was my father."

The family said it is having difficulty bringing his body back home for a proper burial.

"As if my father's death wasn't enough and tragic enough, we assumed that they would do the autopsy and his body would be returned to us in a few days and we learned that, because of certain British Virgin Island laws and because of the holidays, as of right now, it stands that nothing will be done with him until Jan. 3, when the medical examiner is back from vacation," Jason Horgan said.

Jason Horgan said the family has been in contact with the governor's office, the U.S. Embassy and other officials, but no one has been able to expedite the process.

"We can't rest knowing that our father is in a cooler somewhere on an island. He's not even with us," Jason Horgan said.

The son called the situation a nightmare and said the family was shocked by his father's sudden death.

"I still think my dad's going to come walk through the door, call me or text me later. It's just absolutely horrible," Jason Horgan said.

Joseph Horgan is survived by his wife, Tobi Horgan, his children: Jason Horgan and spouse Robin Horgan, Brett Horgan and spouse Grace Horgan, Rachel Lindell and spouse Hans Lindell, Lindsey Marcus and spouse Branden Marcus; his stepchildren: Daniel Smith and spouse Suzy Smith, BJ Smith and spouse Maura Smith; and their grandchildren: Rylee, Rowan, Dylan, Addison, Riley, Logan, Tyla, Molly and Connor.

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.