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#386796 - 09/01/10 12:52 AM Man dies at Mata Chica Resort
Short Offline
Mata Chica Resort employee dies during altercation at staff party

Early Monday night, a staff party ended fatally for an employee of a resort in San Pedro. Fifty-seven year old Gregorio Conejo, a father of two, was hit in the face by a guest at the party at Mata Chica where he was employed for at least ten years. He fell off the pier and into the sea. Conejo was retrieved from the water and transported by boat to the area of the Fido’s dock in town. But he did not survive the incident and passed away before he could get medical attention. Various persons have been detained but no formal charges have been levied. Early this morning, News Five’s Jose Sanchez travelled to the island and files this report.

Jose Sanchez

"The empty beaches on San Pedro signifies the end of the tourist season. The staff of the Mata Chica Resort decided to commemorate this occasion with a staff party. But before the night was over, one man was dead.

Sergeant Dwane McCulloch, CIB, San Pedro
“San Pedro Police visited a dock here in town where they observed the lifeless body of a male person who was later pronounced dead by doctor Daniel Gonzales. Investigation revealed that while he was at a staff party at a resort, about four miles north of San Pedro, he was involved in an altercation with a male person who punched him in the face and fell into the water. He was later retrieved from the water and placed inside a boat where he started to regurgitate a substance that appeared to be water. He was rushed to town to seek medical attention where he died on arrival.”

This morning, the waves rippled calmly under the dock from which Gregorio Cornejo met his death. The mood however, was somber at Mata Chica Resort, after the staff party that turned deadly. The manager would not speak on camera but said the staff is supporting the family of Cornejo. Cornejo, who leaves behind two kids, did not know how to swim.

Jose Sanchez

“From the time the incident occurred when he was punched and fell in the water, how long did I take it to retrieve him from the water in regards to receiving transportation that would aid in his medical attention?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“Well, he was along with some friends and they were socializing, so I don’t think it took long to place him in the boat. I’m not sure of the time span from there to town.”

Jose Sanchez

“What's the name of the deceased?"

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

‘His name is Gregorio Eustaquio Cornejo. He is fifty-seven years old. His date of birth is third of the twelfth 52’.

Jose Sanchez

“He’s originally from Libertad?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“Yes, Libertad Village Corozal.”

San Pedro Police have since detained twenty year old Oscar Barela, an unemployed man of Angel Coral Street in San Pedro. Whether or not he will be charged for murder or manslaughter is not yet known.

Jose Sanchez

“The person who fired that blow. He also was a friend?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“I’m not sure at this time. It was a staff party. Information received is that he was just a visitor.”

Jose Sanchez

“Has that person been detained?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“We have some persons detained pending investigation.”

Jose Sanchez

“The person you have detained is an employee of Mata Chica?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“Ah, some of the person we got detained—we also have a person who is not an employee of Mata Chica detained.”

Jose Sanchez

“Let me understand, even though there is only one person that fired this punch that landed him in the water, it seems like a one man incident. Why do you have more than one person?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“We are still conducting the investigation and hence that is the reason we have them detained pending questioning.”

Jose Sanchez

"Reporting from the Island of San Pedro, Jose Sanchez for News Five."

Live and let live

#386809 - 09/01/10 04:07 AM Re: Homicide at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Short]
Short Offline
Trouble In Paradise: Homicide at Matachica

Matachica Beach Resort at the north end of Ambergris Caye is one of Belize's most exclusive and highly rated hotels. But last night, the property's 57 year old grounds keeper was killed after he was beaten up by a 20 year old.

It's a tragedy at a place most people call paradise - and Monica Bodden went to San Pedro to find out what caused it.

Monica Bodden, Reporting

The lifeless body of 57 year old Gregorio Eustaquio Cornejo was carted away from the morgue this afternoon - in the pan of his family's pick up truck.

His 18 year old son and his nephew sat alongside his coffin as he was taken away to Libertad Village to be buried. Cornejo was pushed off this pier to his death sometime before 6:30 yesterday evening.

He was attending a staff gathering at Mata Chica resort in San Pedro where he worked for over 5 years. Details are a little sketchy but according to police - Cornejo was involved in an altercation:

Corporal Dwayne McCulloch - CIB San Pedro

"The investigation revealed that about 6:30pm on that said date they were having a staff party at a resort when there was a altercation between two male person, a young man who is 20 years old who approach him and punch him in his face and he fell in the water. He was retrieve from the water shortly afterwards and it was notice that he vomiting substance that appears to be water and he was transported for further medical attention to town and upon his arrival here he was pronounce dead."

Today his wife told us she is still trying to put the pieces together - as to what happened last night.

Candida Cornejo - Wife

"According to what I understand there was a staff party and everybody was drinking. There were about to leave when a fight broke out at the end of the pier. And actually in this fight my husband was not involve but at the end he tried to defend one of the friends and because of defending this friend, the one that was fighting hit him in the stomach and when he hit him into the stomach he fell into the water. Since he cannot swim, he actually drowns."

Monica Bodden

"You understand what was the cause of the fight?"

Candida Cornejo - Wife

"No, I don't know what the cause is. They are all staff, all co-workers."

According to Cornejo - her husband's post-mortem stated he died of drowning.

Candida Cornejo - Wife

"Due to the stomach hit that he got. It was a staff party and you expect that everybody was drinking a little. It's not that they were drunk that they forgot one another. But yes they were drinking."

Monica Bodden

"What have you heard from the police?"

Candida Cornejo - Wife

"Well what the police told me this morning is that one will get charge for murder."

So far one person has been detained by police while 6 others are currently in questioning.

Corporal Dwayne McCulloch - CIB San Pedro

"Information received is that the male person who punch the deceased was a visitor."

Monica Bodden

"At this time is there anyone detained by police?"

Corporal Dwayne McCulloch - CIB San Pedro

"Yes we have someone detained."

Jorge Aldana, Reporter

"Will you able to share who that person is?"

Corporal Dwayne McCulloch - CIB San Pedro

"Not at this time because we are still conducting our investigations."

Monica Bodden

"What charges are you looking at?"

Corporal Dwayne McCulloch - CIB San Pedro

"We need to consult with the DPP and she will give us further instructions."

Jorge Aldana, Reporter

"You guys treating this as a murder?"

Corporal Dwayne McCulloch - CIB San Pedro

"We are still investigating the matter."

The family says they want justice for their love one.

Candida Cornejo - Wife

"They have taken from me my best friend and all that I have in all my existence. I don't care what happen whether they get justice or not but I know there is a divine one up in heaven and one day we all have will have one."

Elmer Cornejo, Nephew

"He had no problems, he was just having some fun time with his friends and for somebody just to punch him in his stomach and throw him in the water I think it's so unfair. all that we ask is for justice to be done because as my aunt said many at times things happen and nothing is being done, the police only say that we will be investigation and nothing is done at the end of the day. Now I feel what others have felt before and now I want to say that its time for the Government of Belize to enforce their laws and if anything is not being done then it's just saying that the Government really don't care about its people."

For his eighteen year old son as he escorts the body of his father in the pan of this pick up truck -the memories of his father continue to play in his head.

Pedro Garcia, son

"I feel sad inside but never the less I am still happy because now he will not complain that you know what 'oh my back and my head' and he died with a big smile on his face which I am very happy for that because he has always teach us especially me I have learnt to always smile every time something is bad, every time something goes wrong he would say you know what 'there's is no problem, everything is ok, we will find a solution' and we would call him the magic man."

Candida Cornejo - Wife

"I have a pain that nobody can understand only me alone can feel. I think everybody have a time when they face their own and then they will know how much it takes to bury a person that you love."

Oscar Barela is detained pending charges. It is left to be seen if he will be charged for murder since his punch didn't kill Cornejo; he died when he fell from the force of the blow.

Live and let live

#386810 - 09/01/10 04:08 AM Re: Homicide at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Short]
Short Offline
The Resort Says

Today a Press Release was sent out by Mata Chica Resort - though not on official letterhead - and it proffers a slightly different version of events. The release states that on yesterday while the resort was having its staff closure reunion - there was an altercation and between an invited guest and one of the resort's employees.

The release states that "The confrontation got out of hand with others joining in and during the commotion the deceased fell into the sea off the dock."

The release goes on to say that they were not aware that he couldn't swim and when it was realized that he didn't come out of the water, he was rescued and given CPR - but he was declared dead on arrival in San Pedro.

Live and let live

#386858 - 09/02/10 08:22 AM Re: Man dies at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Short]
Diane Campbell Offline
Maybe you could post this under a more appropriate headline - if the local news wants to label every death a homicide prior to police investigations, I guess they can do it. So much for their credibility when they do so. IMHO this kind of reporting is irresponsible.

I'd kinda hope we could do better - less sensationalism, more facts.

Sadly, a man is dead.
Details are emerging.

Homicide is a serious accusation made all the more tragic when made without facts.

All reports to date indicate that people were drunk when this happened. Reliable witnesses may be hard to come by.

#386860 - 09/02/10 08:54 AM Re: Man dies at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Short]
Marty Offline
well i used the headline the news story did, as i usually do. I have changed it....

#386861 - 09/02/10 08:54 AM Re: Man dies at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Short]
Marty Offline

No Charges For Matachica Death

The funeral for 57 year old Gregorio Eustaquio Cornejo was held today in Libertad Village , but while he is being laid to rest, police have not brought charges against the 20 year old hotel guest, Abel Barela who allegedly punched him into the sea, and caused him to drown.

Police say the DPP has to issue a directive on what charge should be laid because Barela punched him, but it's not the blow that killed the older man, he died when he fell into the sea and drowned.

Channel 7

#386874 - 09/02/10 09:38 AM Re: Man dies at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Short]
cracked up Offline
Very sad and senseless, Mr. Cornejo was a good man.

#386892 - 09/02/10 11:40 AM Re: Man dies at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
Originally Posted By: Marty
well i used the headline the news story did, as i usually do. I have changed it....

Thanks Marty !

#386978 - 09/03/10 09:52 AM Re: Man dies at Mata Chica Resort [Re: Short]
Marty Offline

Staff party on North AC turns tragic

Tragedy hit San Pedro on Monday, as what should have been a time of celebration ended in the untimely death of 57 year old Gregorio Eustaquio Cornejo, maintenance worker of Mata Chica Resort. A telephone interview with manager Gricel Graniel confirmed that on Monday, August 30th, staff and invited guests were at the Mata Chica resort celebrating their annual staff party - honoring their hard work during the busy season and welcoming the closure of the resort during the slow season. At around 7:15 pm, attendees of the party converged at the end of the Mata Chica dock, where it appeared an altercation had ensued between four individuals attending the party. During the altercation, there was some punching and shoving, and one of the persons involved, Mr. Gregorio Cornejo, apparently lost his balance and fell into the water. Mr. Cornejo, as well as the others involved had been consuming alcohol. According to Mr. Graniel, it was uncertain whether Mr. Cornejo knew how to swim. He further stated that co-worker Edwin Aldana retrieved Mr. Cornejo from the water and attempted to perform CPR on him. As the attempts at CPR appeared to not be working, Mr. Cornejo was taken to town for medical assistance. Dr. Daniel Gonzalez met the boat at Fido's dock and he pronounced Mr. Cornejo dead on arrival.
According to Dr. Daniel Gonzalez, the patient was in cardiac arrest and CPR was being performed on him at the Fido's dock when the doctor and his team arrived. Dr. Gonzalez continued performing CPR for about 15 minutes, but Mr. Cornejo did not respond. According to Dr. Gonzalez he understands that, "From the story they [party guests] are saying, he fell into the water and he had a near-drowning [incident], he vomited and aspirated his vomit. When they were bringing him he was still breathing, during his trip to San Pedro, he vomited and aspirated and went into cardiac arrest. The captain of the boat started to perform CPR from Journey's end to San Pedro."
A Police Press Report released by the Police Press Office further confirmed the incident "On Monday, 30th, August, 2010, based on information received at 7:43pm, San Pedro Police visited FIDO'S dock located on the beach in front of FIDO'S courtyard where they observed the lifeless body of a Hispanic male identified as GREGORIO EUSTAQUIO CORNEJO, 57yrs. maintenance worker of MATA CHICA Resort and resident of San Juan Area. Initial investigations revealed that at about 6:30pm on same date, Cornejo was involved in an altercation at Mata Chica resort with one OSCAR BARELA [sic], 20yrs. unemployed of Angel Coral St., who punched him in the face causing him to fall off the pier into the water. Cornejo was retrieved from the water and placed inside a boat and was transported to Fido's dock, where he later died. Cornejo was transported to the KHMH where he was pronounced dead on arrival and now awaits a post mortem examination. Barela is presently detained by Police and investigations continue."
Unconfirmed reports are that Mr. Cornejo died from asphyxia due to drowning. As of press time, no one had been charged in this case. The San Pedro Police Department continues their investigation into the matter.
Below is a press release sent out on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 by Mata Chica Resort in regards to the unfortunate accident.
Press Release - Mata Chica Resort - August 31st, 2010 - On Monday August 30th, 2010, Mata Chica Resort has its staff closure reunion, since the resort closes every year for renovations and employee vacations. The reunion was programmed from 3:00 to 7:30 pm. At around 7:00 pm there was an altercation and confrontation from an invited guest with one employee.
At this moment the confrontation got out of hand with others joining in. During all this commotion, Mr. Cornejo fell into the sea off the dock. We were not aware that he couldn't swim and when it was realized that he didn't come out of the water, he was rescued and given CPR immediately. He was then transported to town with a doctor called upon to await the accident victim. However, upon arrival he was declared dead.
The owners, management and staff offer their deepest and sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Cornejo.

San Pedro Sun


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