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#503109 - 04/08/15 06:15 AM Veteran Boatman Explains Explosion
Marty Offline

On Thursday night, we left you with the story about a boat that caught on fire in the hanger area near the Belize City Municipal Airstrip. Four men were heading out to Saint George’s Caye to drop off items for their return Easter holiday on Friday. As the boat started and launched it burst into flames. The blast sent three of the men overboard leaving only the boat captain, fifty-nine year old Romaldo ‘Romi’ Badillo onboard. Thirty-four year old George Gonzalez, also received burns to the body while the other two, forty-one year old Wallace Flowers and fifty-two year old Stephen Bradley escaped mostly unhurt. News Five spoke with veteran boat builder and owner of the skiff, Stephen Bradley. Andrea Polanco has the story.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This is the boat that was heading to St. George’s Caye on Holy Thursday afternoon. But it didn’t reach its destination. Just minutes after it launched, there was a loud explosion and fire erupted on board Ms Din’s.  Of the four passengers, Romi Badillo Senior was the most injured. Stephen Bradley, owner of Miss Din, was also in the boat.

Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley, Boat Builder

“We launched the boat. I reversed. I started the engine which was no problem; it’s a brand new engine with thirty seven hours of use. I remove the boat from the trailer by reversing it off. I had instructed my helper; my supervisor Eduardo Zelaya to park my truck and the trailer on the side where the launch ramp is and in the process of parking my truck by the seawall to pick him up, there was just a loud bang and the boat exploded instantly. This was about probably four minutes after we started the engine.”

That bang led to this fire onboard the boat.  Within seconds, the flames were high and thick smoke covered the area. The impact of the explosions threw two passengers overboard. Bradley recounts the terrifying experience.

Stephen Bradley

“One of my guys, Wallace Flowers, one of my workers got thrown into the sea. The other guy George Nicholas Gonzalez, his legs caught on fire and he jumped out. Unfortunately Mr Badillo was thrown forward and he was lying in a, as far as I could tell, a semi-conscious state and I was trying to get him to get up because of the position of where the flames were I couldn’t pick him up and throw him over the side. I was trying to get him to get up and at one instance I remember trying to lash the fire on his right leg to keep it from not burning anymore; I failed at that. There was a secondary explosion and I was looking around me on my left to see where there was another boat in the water to pick up people to see if I can get the boat to come along and help us. The secondary explosion threw me out the boat; it felt like somebody hit me in my chest without somebody touching me. It was a bit hard for me to get back in the boat and by this time the entire front of the boat was on flame. When I went to the back of the boat where there was a swim deck to get on, I could see Mr Badillo did like a big exercise push up and just rolled over the side of the boat and into the sea.  The other boat was near enough and they threw a life jacket and I picked it up. I got closer to Romi and I gave him the life jacket to hold on to. I couldn’t hold him from his upper body because he was so badly burnt and he was in pain at that point and still it seemed that he would go under so I grabbed him by the pants waist and put him closer to me so he can hold on to my shoulder. I kept him on to me and we kept bobbing up and down and I managed to drag myself closer to the rescue boat.”

Romaldo Badillo Sr.

Two of the men were taken to the hospital. Badillo has since been transferred to Guatemala City for medical treatment. The seasoned sea man suffered second degree burns.

Stephen Bradley

“I spoke with his young brother who is with him, his wife and daughter who are in Guatemala City just at midday by telephone. The burns that were initially considered to be third degree were downgraded to second degree after treatment and some surgical procedures where they removed quite a bit of the burnt skin. As of midday today I was told by his brother that it is second degree and he is very much sedated; it’s an induced sedation so as to avoid the pain when he is conscious. I think last Friday was the last time he was speaking. Romi is going to pull through and anyone who knows him will tell you he is tough.”

Andrea Polanco

“The other two men, did they escape largely unhurt?”

Stephen Bradley

“Fortunately for Mister Wallace Flowers he only sustained five or six stitches over his left eye and he was released from the hospital that same afternoon. George Gonzalez is still in the hospital and will remain there for at least a month to avoid the risk of getting infection because the burns on his hand and left leg are being considered as secondary and on the right hand and right leg as firs degree burns.”

Bradley says they are fortunate to be alive today.

Stephen Bradley

“To be here today to say that Romi, George, Wallace and I survived an incident like that, I would say that we are extremely lucky; extremely, extremely lucky.”

The boat and equipment onboard were totally destroyed; all valued at around sixty thousand dollars. Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

Channel 5

#503147 - 04/09/15 05:52 AM Re: Veteran Boatman Explains Explosion [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Romy Recovering, Needs Help

Well known boat captain Romaldo Badillo remains in a hospital in Guatemala being treated for severe burn injuries.

As we reported, that boat explosion happened just after 1 p.m. last week Thursday, and 4 very experienced boat operators, including Badillo, but he ended up with the worst injuries. So, how did it happen? Well, that’s what the owner of the boat, Stephen Bradley, explained to us today. He explained that there were two – not one – explosions that happened to the boat:

Stephen Bradley - Survived Boat Explosion

"For the entire morning of Holy Thursday, which was last week Thursday, I had the boat in the boat yard and we were preparing the boat to take a provision to St. Georges Caye with the family - where we would normally spend the easter weekend. We packed drinks, ice, the boat was refuelled. It was checked out and everything and we left here about just about quarter to 1 the afternoon to launch the boat by the launch ramp - commonly known as the hanger launch ramp, which is by the airstrip. I reverse the boat off the trailer and started it easy with no problem. I just made a big U turn in the sea at idle speed because my driver and my work man parking the truck was to go with us on the trip. On completing the turn I backed into the seawall where he would come on to the front of the boat and about 200 feet from the seawall, just heard a big loud bang and the boat exploded. When the smoke cleared, I noticed that 2 of the other guys - George Nicolas Gonzales, his legs and his left arm were on fire and he jumped over board very quickly. The other young man that was with us, Wallace Flowers, he was thrown off the starboard side of the boat in the back of the boat into the sea. I was okay, I don't know how I escaped without an injury but unfortunately Mr. Badillo was thrown forward. The boats has 2 seats up front on port and star and he was thrown forward face down on the port side seat and the right side of his hand and his right leg was on fire. He was in a sort of a state of confusion. I tried to get him to stand to jump in the sea with me because I told him Romy, Romy, you got to get up, we have to leave the boat. But because of the way the blaze was coming out of the middle of the boat, I couldn't access his body properly to lift him and throw him into the sea. When I turned around to see where the others - another boat in the water owned by the Gomez's sons and I turned around to see behind me where that boat was - thinking I could get the boat to come up along side to assist me in taking Mr. Badillo out. When I turned around there was a second explosion and that blast, which was a smaller blast, knocked me into the sea. I tried to get to the back of the boat because only Mr. Badillo was in the boat at that time. When I got to the back of the boat to climb in I saw him do like a exercise push up and he just lean his body over the side on the port side and just threw himself into the sea which was when I swam up to him. The rescue boat has come by at that time and they threw a lifejacket which I held on to and gave him the lifejacket - and I sort of held him in the belt buckle of his pants waist.”

Bradley told us that the boat, Ms Din, is in near perfect condition, and engine was only 37 hours old, meaning that it was almost brand new. He told us that he is still puzzled as to what caused the explosions, and so, he’s asked the Fire Department to investigate the incident.

And while that remains a mystery, the urgency right now is the health of 59 year old Romy Badillo. He’s in Guatemala going through a painful and costly treatment for second degree burns to 50% of his body. Now, his family and friends have organised a fundraiser for him. It’s called the Beers and Bites fundraiser for Captain Romy Badillo. We spoke to his sister in law Nydia Riverol and she told us how this fundraiser will help the family with medical expenses

Nydia Riverol - Romy’s Sister in Law

"Romy is a well known boat captain. He's been a boat captain for over 40 years. He's done different trips on his own, several people know him - he also does rescue dives, he was done several of those over the past years. The fundraising that we are having this Saturday is for him. We had to fly him out as you guys know on Friday. So he is Guatemala right now getting treatment. He's in a stable condition but very critical still. So the family will need to be there at least another 2 more months. So this weekend, a group of his friends and colleagues and people who know him, people who heard about him. Everybody has come together and we're going to be doing a barbecue fundraiser. We're going to be selling barbecue at the hour bar field. We'll also be having a cash bar so people can come and have drinks. We'll have beers, we'll have drinks, we'll have sodas for the kids. There is going to be a bouncy house, so the kids can come and play. We're also going to be having music and several DJs will be there as well. When they got him over to Guatemala they realised that the 3rd degree burns were only 2nd, which is good news but he's still very critical. He did receive over 50% of his body had gotten burnt, so he has to be sedated for a very long time while he's receiving treatment over there. So we keep asking for prayers because we can't ask for more you know.”

The event is set for Saturday morning from 10 to 4 in the afternoon. There will also be a telethon and a dance at the Thirsty Thursday on Saturday night.

You can also send donations to the Fundraiser for Romy Badillo Atlantic Bank account, The account number is 211567972

Channel 7

#503149 - 04/09/15 06:10 AM Re: Veteran Boatman Explains Explosion [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

On Thursday, April 2, 2015, Captain Romi Badillo, a well-known boat captain in Belize for over 40 years, was in a terrible boat accident. He suffered both 2nd and 3rd degree burns and severe inhalation of toxic fumes. He was flown to the US for immediate medical attention. His family now needs at least $200,000USD to get Romi the urgent care he needs. Any help anyone can give would be greatly appreciate. Romi's wife, two children and family want nothing more than to have him healthy and safe. Please help us to make this possible. Thank You!

Donate to Captain Romi Badillo in GoFundMe account: http://www.gofundme.com/qtgm4m5n

#504044 - 05/07/15 06:19 AM Re: Veteran Boatman Explains Explosion [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Romy Badillo Passes Four Weeks After Boating Explosion

After fighting for his life at the Centro Medico Hospital in Guatemala for 33 days, well-known Boat Captain Romy Badillo died this morning at 2:45. The family is in Guatemala right now making arrangements for his body to be brought back home for burial. When we spoke to his son, Romy Badillo Jr. this evening he told us that his father was not on life support and that he died a natural death as a result of his severe injuries and second degree burns which he received to 50% of his body. About 5 days after the family took Badillo to Guatemala in April, they had posted on facebook that the skin surgery to remove the burnt skin was successful and that he was recovering, but things took a sudden turn for the worse. He reportedly got an infection on his leg which had to be amputated and went downhill after that.

The incident happened on April 2nd near the municipal airstrip. On the Thursday before Easter, 4 men were launching a boat with an inboard engine when a fire spontaneously ignited onboard. The fire caused an explosion which sent one of the men flying into the sea and left Badillo severly burned. What caused the explosion is still a mystery. Badillo had been a boat captain for over 40 years.

Channel 7

Click photos for more pictures

It is with tearful sympathy that we offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Captain Romi Badillo. No words can express the sense of loss. Romi meant so very much to so many people for so many different reasons. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anna, children Romito and Roanne and grandchild Chloe as well as all his immediate and extended family and friends. Rest in peace Romi. We carry you in our hearts now.

Oceana Belize

#504050 - 05/07/15 06:50 AM Re: Veteran Boatman Explains Explosion [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Was such a grt man and expert captain
Belize based travel specialist


Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!

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