Diana Mechling and her husband Michael were among thousands of tourists who visited the jewel on Wednesday. The American couple chose to go snorkeling in the pristine waters off Goff’s Caye but that trip ended tragically for the Mechling’s from Ohio. Diana lost her life when the propeller of a catamaran operated by Cruise Solutions, slashed her several times. And as Marion Ali reports, authorities are probing whether or not there was any negligence involved.
Marion Ali, Reporting
Goff’s Caye is an attractive tourist spot, excellent for snorkeling and relaxation just forty five minutes away from Belize City by boat. But one of those tourist expeditions went seriously wrong when one of the visitors was killed, reportedly by the propeller on the same boat on which she had traveled to the location.
Fifty-nine year old Diana Mechling, a tourist who was a passenger on Holland America Line’s Ryndam cruise ship, decided along with her husband, Michael Mechling, to go on a snorkeling tour at Goff’s Caye. The couple reached the area early in the afternoon onboard a vessel operated by Cruise Solutions. But the tour never took place because the incident occurred just moments after Diana got into the water. She somehow went under the vessel, whether it was voluntarily or was swept by the waves. That was when the engine’s rotating propeller delivered a huge gash to Diana’s right leg and two more to her face. The trip came to an immediate end when the boat captain, forty-five year old Martin Pariente reeled in everyone from the water and rushed Diana to the Belize Medical Associate’s Hospital for treatment. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
News Five visited Goff’s Caye today and spoke with Ranger Alexander Chan, who works for the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority, which manages the caye. Chan told us that the boat arrived at the caye and quickly proceeded to the snorkeling area several hundred yards away.
Alexander Chan, Park Ranger, Goff’s Caye
“The boat didn’t really stay long at the dock because it just did its briefing and went back to the reef and that’s what we saw.”
“And it had unloaded some passengers?”
“Yeah, a couple, like three, four the most.”
“So the incident happened as they reached there?”
“Yeah, well the sea was much rougher than today as you can see.”
Whether snorkeling should have been allowed during the rough sea state is one of several factors currently under investigation. While that is ongoing, the incident has triggered tour guides to exercise extreme caution today.
“Everybody did their snorkel on the inside for this day so, everybody is pretty moving in a cautious way. I’m out here for like the past three years and first time I’ve ever been around an accident like that.”
“The unfortunate incident is under investigation by the Belize Port Authority and the Belize Police Department to determine whether negligence was involved. Marion Ali, News Five, Goff’s Caye.”
The investigation is also looking at whether the vessel’s crew applied proper procedures during the trip. We tried to reach the Belize Tourism Board and Cruise Solutions for comment, but they didn’t return our calls.