Owner Of Dive Shop Where Tourists Drowned Speaks
Yesterday we reported about two tourists who drowned while snorkeling in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. They are 54 year old American National Roger Burger and an Italian national Zayihe Florencia. The tourists along with 5 others were on a tour with Tsunami Tour Adventures yesterday and headed to the reserve form some snorkeling. While doing so it is reported that the group began drifting due to the strong current. Burger and Florencia got carried away and later drowned.
It is a tremendous black eye for the company which has been in business for over 15 years. Today we spoke with the Manager of Tsunami Tours Adventures who told us as soon as he received the call yesterday he headed out to sea. Here's what he told Monica Bodden:
"When I went by the reserve after the notified me about what had happen. I went directly to the people from Hol Chan and I ask them about what was happening. The guy told me that they found one person that they said was missing. I ask if anybody went outside the reef to try to assist and they said no. I ask then where did they find the person and they said just a little bit ahead from the channel."
"I took it from there and I went a little bit more south of where they found the person and then I found the other person. As soon as I found the person I call right away and notified the boat driver and I told them to tell the Coast Guard and the park rangers for Hol Chan which was right there. They came very quick and put the man in the boat and took him to San Pedro."
Monica Bodden reporting
This is the vessel called Cyclone which transported the tourist to Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The tour left out at about 10:30 that morning.
What really happened out at sea is still being investigated - Rosado could only give us an account of what his tour guide and boat captain told him.
"From my understanding the tour guide was guiding the 7 passengers that he had in the boat. He said that he dive down to show something to the people but I guess when he dive up he said that the people was already drifting because of the current. The current was very strong, so actually it can happen to anybody."
"I never got into the water, but according to some of the other guides that were out there that was assisting, they said that current was very strong and that what cause the problem."
"Is that an area that you guys normally take tourists out, that exact spot?"
"Everybody goes in the same area. It just happened that the current was much stronger. That's why it probably happened."
Tsunami Tours Adventures has been in business for over 15 years and has worked with hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world. This is the first time the company has ever been faced with an accident such as this - where lives have been lost.
"We apologize to the people that died. We feel bad for what happened and we wish the best for them. We wish something like that never happen, but you know accidents do happen and nobody is perfect. We just have to take it from there and see what happen."
"We apologized about what happened out there. Like I said I wasn't there to see exactly what had happen but the minute they notified me I hurriedly went and try to assist. I even went all the way to San Pedro Poly Clinic and offered them my assistance."
"I didn't speak to the other persons because I didn't know how they would have reacted to me."
Today some of the tourists that were on the snorkeling tour yesterday returned to the office asking for a refund of their money, which was granted to them. They then took a flight out to the International airport - and left the country.
The incident is still under investigation. The company would like the public to know that the tour guide is certified.
Twin tourist tragedy
Two tourists, an American and an Italian, drowned in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, near San Pedro, after they became separated from their snorkeling group, reportedly because of rough seas and strong currents.
Four tourists in all were separated from the main group of seven tourists who were on a tour of the reserve; two died and two were rescued. The incident occurred around 11:30 a.m. today, Tuesday, April 3.
One tourist was found midday, and the second tourist was found about a half hour later, at 1:10 p.m. Both were found in the Shark Ray Alley area of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
The survivors were taken for treatment at the San Pedro Poly Clinic for dehydration and other conditions, and were admitted for observation.
The bodies of the two victims were taken to the San Pedro Polyclinic Morgue. They will then be taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, where an autopsy will be performed to confirm their cause of death.
Marcel Alamilla, tour guide, is captain of the boat, Cyclone, of Tsunami Tours of Caye Caulker, which took the seven tourists to the reserve. Besides the seven tourists, he had an assistant on board.
A fisheries officer on Caye Caulker told Amandala that it was the strong waves and rough seas that displaced the four snorkelers over the reef.
He said that the group departed from Caye Caulker for the marine reserve in weather that was not optimal. He said that in the area there were opposing currents because the area was near the channel.
A current flows out, he said, and one flows in, and the currents are strong in both directions. The four who got separated were caught in the current that flowed out, which made it very difficult for them to swim in.
He said that if it was left up to him, the tour would not have gone out, because the seas were rough and the wind was strong, and the currents would be heavy in the area.
Reports are that during their struggle to come in, two of the tourists went under the water and did not resurface, while the next two struggled until they were rescued by Miguel Alamilla of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Miguel Alamilla said that he received a distress call around 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, that four tourists from a group of seven had disappeared, and he immediately responded.
The Coast Guard and police were alerted. He arrived in time to see the first survivor struggling and barely making it. He jumped out of the boat and rescued her, and shortly after, the second survivor was spotted and was rescued.
Police have since detained the boat captain for an interview to determine exactly what led to the deaths of the two tourists.