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#436564 - 04/26/12 08:01 AM 3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea
Marty Offline

Elton Bennett

Three Corozal fishermen have been missing for four days and their family now fears the worst. According to relatives, forty-nine year old Silverio Tepaz, fifty year old Teobaldo Tepaz and twenty year old Mejadi Tepaz left Sarteneja Village by road on April twelfth and headed to Mango Creek where their boat was moored. They went fishing in southern Belize and were expected to return home on Saturday night. Since they have not been in contact, the family turned to the Belize Coast Guard and an intensive search was launched on Monday. Acting Commandant of the Coast Guard, Lieutenant Commander Elton Bennett gave News Five an update on the search and rescue mission. Bennett says they suspect that foul play may have been involved.

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett, Ag. Commandant, Belize Coastguard

“On Monday, the twenty-third April, we received information on the delay of a vessel by the name of Lucerito. There were three persons on board and the last known location of the vessel was between Twin Caye and Southwater Caye. The intended destination was Belize City and the men believed they should have been in Belize by midnight on Saturday. They never made the Belize City route. The family members informed us on Monday and we commenced a search immediately; a joint search between the Belize Coastguard, the Fisheries and members of the family. Yesterday evening the aerial search unit spotted the submerged vessel just off the north western tip of Glovers Reef. We immediately responded to that location and upon arrival we noticed the mass of the vessel protruding from below the surface, the vessel itself was submerged. We immediately conducted a dive of the scene and we conducted a follow up dive this morning. There are no signs of the persons on board. It will be a challenging operation; the probability of detection decreases as time goes by, the search area increases as time goes by. We’ve requested the assistance of the Belize Defence Force air wing to assist with an aerial search. They commenced the search this morning and we currently have a total of over five surface vessels doing search in that area.”

Delahnie Bain

“Any idea as to when the boat went down or when the men were last heard from?”

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“The last transmission from the men to their families to their families was on Friday night and they stated that they should have been in Belize City by midnight on Saturday. They never made it to Belize City. There was a freak storm that occurred off the southern coast of Belize on Saturday night. It could have been one of the factors as to why the incident occurred.”

Delahnie Bain

“The boat was it—apart from sinking—was it badly damaged or anything?”

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Well, it was grounded on the reef and so there was a little bit of damage on the hull. I don’t think it’s salvageable; it will probably remain as a wreck at that location. There were a few missing items that could have been caused by some wave action when we conducted the dive. We’re still looking at all angles on this case. We’re not only treating it as search and rescue but there could have possibly been foul play in this incident.”

Family members say they were contacted by the three men everyday up until Friday night. One of their relatives, Gloria Cruz, told us today that the family has been involved in search efforts and while they fear something may have gone wrong, they are holding on to hope.

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz, Relative of Missing Fishermen

“We are doing our best with fishermen out there trying to help us, rescue teams formed with fishermen from the village.”

Delahnie Bain

“What all have you been doing to try and find them?”

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz

“Well, they are out there searching the reef, the cayes because they have hope that they are alive; three of them.”

Delahnie Bain

“And I understand you all found the boat on Tuesday?”

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz

“Yes, yesterday evening by four o’clock. My brother was on a flight, we rented a plane and by four o’clock he called me and he told me that they were seeing the boat. So I informed the coast guard and the Fisheries Department, my brothers that were out there. So they went to Glovers Reef because it was right there where they saw the boat, hoping that when they get there they would find them in the boat, but they were not in there.”

Delahnie Bain

“The stuff that they took with them and maybe the fish that they caught, was any of that in the boat?”

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz

“The bags of clothes, their equipment, fishing equipment was in the boat. As far as we know, the engine was not in the boat nor the ice box, the gallons of gasoline they are not in the boat either. That’s what the men out there, the experience they have they are trying to see maybe some of those things floating in the sea.”

Cruz says they are not giving up and will head back to sea to continue the search on Thursday. The Northern Fishermen Cooperative is reportedly organizing a search team to assist in locating the Tepaz family members.

Channel 5


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#436572 - 04/26/12 08:33 AM Re: 3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

SEARCH CONTINUES FOR MISSING FISHERMEN

The search is underway for three fishermen from Sarteneja Village, Corozal, who have been missing since Saturday. According to Silvano Cob, his brother and brother-in-law, Silverio and Teobaldo Tepaz, and his nephew, Mijari Tepaz, were supposed to arrive in Sarteneja from Turneffe Atolls from Saturday, but have still not shown up. The Cob and Tepaz families of Sarteneja have grown worried because their loved ones are experienced anglers and have never been in this type of situation before. This is why Silvano Cob is looking to you to alert someone if you or someone you know, have seen the men or know where they are.

Silvano Cob – Relative of missing men “Friday he called that he would be arriving in Belize late Saturday and up to now we have not heard from them. We thought they were doing, working the last two days of the conch season, we worried but not much. Coming Monday knowing that the season had already closed then we started to worry because they have not arrived in Belize. Yesterday morning we started a search, family asking Coast Guard, informing Police, everyone was informed. With airplane flying over we found the boat at Glover’s Reef apparently the boat, from reports from Coast Guard is empty, no one is there, no one is there.”

Marion Ali - Reporter What about the engine, what about the fish, their stock?

Silvano Cob – Relative of missing men “The icebox is not in the boat, the machine only the bracket is in the stern, something happened.”

Marion Ali - Reporter They could have had engine problems?

Silvano Cob – Relative of missing men “It means something happened because the boat is almost sunk, a wreck on the reef, Glover’s reef and it could be that maybe due to the rough seas maybe the machine broke and only the bracket stayed. What we are thinking is that maybe they are safe up to now because we can’t find the canoes nor the gallons, we are still searching. This morning we sent a fleet of friends which are searching the Cayes. One thing I am begging is if anyone knows please inform us.”

If you know of the whereabouts of the three missing fishermen or have spotted them, you can reach their family at cell numbers: 600 6286 or 601 2821.

LOVEFM


Three Fishermen Missing At Sea, Family's Worries Mount

The families of three Sarteneja fishermen are still clinging to hope as their loved ones are tonight lost at sea.

They are 49 year old Silvero Tepaz, 50 year old Teobaldo Tepaz and 20 year old Mejadi Tepaz. The men left their village sometime last week on a fishing trip and were supposed to make their way to Belize City by Saturday mid-night.

The last anyone heard from the trio was on Friday. On Monday morning the Belize Coast Guard received information on the overdue fishing vessel named Lucerito which was last seen between South Water Caye and Twin Caye.

A search was conducted immediately and the vessel was spotted near the northwestern tip of Glovers Reef. The vessel was submerged and so far none of the fishermen have been found.

7news spoke with the Acting Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard who told us the search efforts will continue but it will become more difficult over time.

Commander Elton Bennett - Acting Commander, Belize Coast Guard
"On Monday the 23rd, we received information of an overdue fishing vessel by the name of Lucerito. The last known location of the vessel was between South Water and Twin Cayes. Immediately after receiving the information, we commenced a joint search effort with the families - the Coast Guard and the Fisheries Department. We commence search on Monday. On Tuesday evening, an aerial search spotted the vessel near the Northwestern tip of Glovers Reef. We immediately deployed to that location, and we noticed a mass projecting from below the surface. The vessel itself was submerged. We conducted a dive at the site yesterday and this morning, and we have not been able to locate anyone in that immediate area. The search effort continues, and it becomes a little more difficult over time. The probability of detection significantly decreases while the search area increases over time. We've received the assistance of the BDF - a defender aircraft - to assist in the search. Currently, we have over 5 vessels along with the BDF aircraft searching in the area. We hope that at some time today, we will be able to come up with something significant. They called in on Friday, and it was expected that they would have reached Belize City by midnight on Saturday. There were 3 persons onboard, all from Sarteneja Village. After we conducted the dive, we noticed that the engine, the drums, and a few other items were missing from the vessel. This could be for several reasons. It could be the water effect on the vessel over time, and of course, as mentioned, we're not ruling out anything. We are investigating from all angles. We have informed the police, and we are taking a very close look at this one."

The search continues tomorrow morning with help from the Belize Defence Force and the Fisheries Department.

Channel 7


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#436637 - 04/27/12 08:42 AM Re: 3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Search continues For Missing Fishermen

The search at sea continues for the three missing fishermen of Sartaneja village. On last night's newscast we told you about 49 year old Silvero Tepaz, 50 year old Teobaldo Tepaz and 20 year old Mejadi Tepaz who went missing out at sea sometime over the weekend.

The men were last heard from on Friday and were supposed to make their way to Belize City by Saturday midnight. Their vessel which is named Lucerito was spotted near the northwestern tip of Glovers Reef and was submerged in water.

None of the fishermen has been found as yet. If you have any information, please call the nearest police station.

Channel 5


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#436645 - 04/27/12 09:01 AM Re: 3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Massive hunt for 3 missing fishermen

It is now five days since the family of three Sarteneja fishermen last heard from them. Forty-nine year old Silverio Tepaz, his brother fifty year old Teobaldo Tepaz and nephew twenty year old Mijari Tepaz left for a fishing trip on April twelfth and are now lost at sea. They had been contacting their families every day, but the last phone call was on Friday night when Silverio told his wife that he would be home by Saturday night. But that was not the case.

At sunset this evening, search parties that include the Coast Guard, the Belize Defence Force, fellow fishermen and family members, ended another day of combing the Glovers Reefs area and surrounding waters, but there is still no news on the whereabouts of the three men. The sunken vessel, Lucerito, was found near Glovers Reef late Tuesday afternoon by an aerial team, but it was empty. Subsequent dives conducted in the area by Coast Guard personnel also turned out fruitless.

Tonight, there is growing concern in the Tepaz family that something may have gone terribly wrong. Acting Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Lieutenant Commander Elton Bennett, also revealed on Wednesday that foul play may have been involved in the disappearance of the fishermen. The probe continues, but as Bennett noted the search area widens everyday due to the waves and current while the chances of finding the men decrease. Anyone with information that can assist with locating Silverio, Teobaldo and Mijari, is asked to call the nearest police station.

Channel 5


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#436890 - 05/01/12 08:58 AM Re: 3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
from a friend....

Seems like missing Sarteneja fisherman, were victims of a pirate attack? Boat had holes chopped in it. Blood found also and the motor is gone. The boat was found sunk at Glovers Reef, but Coast Guard says the holes were not enough to sink the boat.

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#436895 - 05/01/12 09:18 AM Re: 3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Missing Fishermen; but boat had blood and holes

Mejadi Tepaz

It has been nine days since forty-nine year old Silverio Tepaz, fifty year old Teobaldo Tepaz and twenty year old Mejadi Tepaz went missing. The boat that the three Sarteneja fishermen chartered was found submerged near Glover’s Reef. A massive search and rescue was spearheaded by the Belize Coastguard, while other fishermen and family members mounted their own concerted efforts to find them. Acting Commandant for the Coastguard, Lieutenant Elton Bennett says that in addition to the elapsed time, blood and holes in the vessel, all tell a tale of foul play.

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett, Ag. Commandant, Belize Coastguard

“Because the time has elapsed, we decided to suspend the case and we have been searching almost for seven days now and our search and rescue policy would mean that once there is no signs of life and there is no signs of any further development, we would suspend the case until we have anything new. Sometime I think late Friday, we received information that some of the family members found what appeared to be signs of blood on a piece of tarp. They handed it over to the police and the police are doing forensics on it and they are taking it from that end. We also found some holes inside the deck of the vessel.”

Jose Sanchez

Elton Bennett

“Okay, the boat was partially submerged, so this is during dive itself?”

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Yes this was during the dive. We were able to operate during low tide; able to get in and do some more searches on the vessel. So after we discovered the three holes in the vessel, we took a closer look at it and so far it appears to have been maybe a metal blunt object—possibly an anchor or an axe—from onboard the vessel. There are signs of residue just around the hole on the deck of the vessel.”

Jose Sanchez

“So the holes are actually fresh?”

Silverio Tepaz

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Yes it appears to be fresh. I’m sure the fishermen would not have gone on the way with holes in the vessel.”

Jose Sanchez

“Do you think these holes could have caused it to submerge?”

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Not really, the hole protruding through the keel of the vessel was not that of a large hole that would cause it to submerge immediately. The vessel we believe drifted from the inner channel onwards to Glover’s Reef where it was grounded. So we don’t believe the holes really caused it to sink.”

Jose Sanchez

“I know from the first interview you did, you did mention that there was a possibility of foul play. That was always part of the investigation wasn’t it?

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Yes whenever we do cases like this and we find anything suspicious—for example; the engine was missing from the vessel—we immediately start looking at other possibilities of maybe foul play. To speak about the engine now, looking at a closer view at it from the trans from where the engine is secured to the vessel, it appears to have been wrenched off not screwed off. This as I mentioned earlier could have been when the vessel ran over a piece of reef or the wave action on the vessel itself caused it to have been wrenched off. So we’re continuing looking at it as a possible foul play.”

Jose Sanchez

“So definitely the blood on the tarp that the family has handed over has really changed the direction of this case?”

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Yes. Once we go forward and the forensics is done on the blood stains then we will be able to further look on the case from a different perspective.”

Jose Sanchez

“Now during your years in the Coast Guard when people go missing at sea, do we normally recover bodies? What’s the likelihood at this point?”

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Normally body will take about two days if it is a case of drowning to rise. We believe the accident happened Saturday night. That will leave us almost no chance of finding a body floating at sea unless it would have been washed up on an island somewhere.”

Channel 5


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#438837 - 05/25/12 09:25 AM Re: 3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Sarteneja Fishermen Still Lost At Sea Family Says Search Continues

On Saturday April 21st, 59 year old Silverio Tepaz, Tiobaldo Tepaz and Mijari Tepaz were declared lost at sea. It has now been 32 days since anyone has seen or heard from the three fishermen who hail from the village of Sarteneja. Family members and friends have exhausted all sources and options in search of the three men but so far it has proven fruitless.

The intensive search for the three men was called off by the Coast Guard and the Belize Defense Force after 7 days. Today when we spoke to a family member of the trio via phone we were told that the search still continues on their behalf but hope is fading away as the days goes by. So far the family has been unable to communicate with any of the men as calls to their cell phone have been unanswered.

On April 12th the three fishermen left Sarteneja Village en route to Mango Creek where they boarded their boat and headed to Southern Belize for a fishing trip. Because the conch season closed early this year, the three fishermen called their family and informed them that they would be arriving in Belize City on April 21st but they never did make it to the harbor. The vessel the men were traveling in was found sunken near Glover’s Reef. Foul play has not been ruled out when it comes to the men’s disappearance.

CTV3

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