Since last night, Coast Guard officers and residents of Orange Walk have been looking for the the bodies of 2 young men who went swimming in the New River.
21 year-old Carlos Reyes, of Trial Farm, and his friend, who has not been identified, went swimming yesterday in an area believed to be the territory of a crocodile. The young men jumped in, and a third young man was with them, but he noticed the crocodile and got out. He started looking around for his friends to tell them of the danger, but they never resurfaced.
Some time this morning, after an intensive search, the authorities found Carlos Reyes' body. But after hours and hours of combing the river, they couldn't find the other young man. Our colleagues from CTV 3 News spoke with one area resident who tried to get them out of the water. Here's what she told them off camera:
Voice of: Eyewitness, tried to get the boys out of the water "Yesterday about 5:30, prior to that the crocodile was here feeding twice and the third time I thought it was a crocodile and I yelled to my sister it's a crocodile, because I wanted to see it and I saw two boys yesterday and I told them there is crocodile there, come out. We left them. That's all I could do. Until last night I saw the police. I said I was sorry because maybe I should have called the cops. I didn't know what could have happened."
Jose Reyes, father of Carlos Albert Reyes "In the morning I though, yes. But now, from what people are saying, it is impossible. Well from my point of view. I think it's impossible."
Petty Officer 1st Class Edwards, Coast Guard Search Team "We are conducting search patterns, parallel search patters, depend of the area. However visibility is poor. So we have to remain close together and try comb the area as best as we can."
Reporter "How long do you believe that the search will continue for?"
Petty Officer 1st Class Edwards, Coast Guard Search Team "Well, that's above my call. Whenever our boss say to stop the search, well then we stop. But for this moment we will continue until we are told to stop."
Reporter"Is it proven to be a challenge underwater?"
Petty Officer 1st Class Edwards, Coast Guard Search Team "Well most likely yes, because it's poor visibility and a bit of sticks and broken trees and stuff - that basically it. But apart from that, you have to go real close to the bottom to be able to see."
We understand that, about an hour or so ago, Coast Guard suspended their search for the still unidentified young man, and the intend to resume tomorrow.
Tragedy struck in Orange Walk last night after two men jumped into the New River and did not reemerge. This morning the body of one of the two men was retrieved from the water after hours of search by the Belize Coast Guard and local divers.
One Man Still Missing in New River
Two men plunged into the crocodile infested waters of New River, which runs through Orange Walk Town, on a whim on Monday evening. They would never surface again and this morning the body of twenty-one-year-old Carlos Reyes, was pulled out of the dark waters by a search team from the Belize National Coast Guard. Reyes was with a friend, yet unidentified, when they jumped into the river for a swim, despite being warned of the looming dangers. But, death knocked at their doors. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
A recovery effort by coastguard frogmen to locate and retrieve an unidentified body from the depths of the New River in Orange Walk Town is ongoing. Divers have been submerged in this meandering waterway since morning, occasionally breaking the surface before returning to its underbelly. The search has so far yielded the remains of twenty-one-year-old Carlos Reyes, a resident of Trial Farm Village. He was out having drinks with a friend on Monday evening and both were driving along Riverside Street when they arrived at this area behind La Inmaculada Primary School. Inspector Nicholas Palomo is second in command of the Orange Walk Police Formation. He recounts a report made by Velasquez Hidalgo, the driver of the vehicle.
Insp. Nicholas Palomo, Deputy O.C., Orange Walk Police
Insp. Nicholas Palomo
“Carlos Reyes asked him to stop the car, as he had seen a friend sitting by the river bank. Carlos Reyes then approached the friend and were talking for about a few minutes and Carlos Reyes and the friend got into the river. He waited for about fifteen minutes and they did not resurface so he went to the police station and made his report.”
Prior to witnessing the men’s disappearance, Hidalgo himself was also about to enter the murky waters when he was dissuaded by a neighbor who lives adjacent to the empty lot.
Voice of: Orange Walk Resident
“Apparently there were three persons, which I didn’t know until later on, and I said, “Son, come out of the water because the crocodiles are feeding right now and they are in there now because I never saw them but I heard it.” And I know the splash from a crocodile from a fish because I’ve lived here all my life. I know the crocodiles, I see them. They feed in the evening, they feed in the morning. And he was joking and, I will just say what he said in Spanish, “Oh, yo soy crocodilo! Yo soy crocodilo! Donde esta el crocodilo? Yo estoy no puedo nadar.” “I’m the crocodile! I’m the crocodile “Where is he?”
Presumably, the large reptile had already retreated to the bottom of the river. It is uncertain, however, if the croc infested water played a role in their vanishing. What is sure is that Hidalgo took no chances. He remained on dry land.
Carlos Carbajal, Brother-in-law of Carlos Reyes
“So this guy he didn’t go in again, but my brother-in-law and the other guy they were already in the water. So the guy that was driving the car said that he did not enter, get in the water and he waited a couple minutes, like twenty minutes he said, and after that he saw that my brother-in-law did not resurface and he came and gave a report to the police.”
That statement was not followed up on until this morning, when a team of divers attached to the Belize National Coast Guard was deployed into the area to commence a search and recovery operation.
“Orange Walk Police volunteers and now the Coast Guard have been searching the river and at 11:30 a.m. this morning, the twenty-third, the body of Carlos Reyes was recovered. There were no signs of injuries on him and his body was transported to the morgue. As you can see the coast guard is still searching for the next body whose identity we don’t know at this time.”
The area, according to the elderly woman, is unsafe. Despite numerous warnings, residents insist on entering the perilous waters.
Voice of: Orange Walk Resident
“People come and swim and it’s not the first time people swim here. I always come at the corner and I say get out. They don’t come out but some come out alive and this time two apparently died. I don’t know if they drowned or what happened, I don’t know. But I know that crocs don’t eat people that are dead, they don’t. They just take you in and they drown you and leave you or maybe take you.”
While there were no visible injuries on Reyes’ body, police are yet to recover a second corpse. As such, it is premature to determine an exact cause of death.
Coast Guard Still Looking For The Other Drowning Victim
And keeping it in the Orange Walk District, today, the Coast Guard resumed the search for the still unidentified youth who went swimming in the New River with his friend, 21 year-old Carlos Reyes, but never resurfaced.
As we told you, there was a third young man who was with them, and he jumped in as well, but he noticed a crocodile lurking in the waters. He got out and tried to warn his other 2 companions, but he couldn't find them. After hours of search yesterday, the Coast Guard found the body of 21 year-old Carlos Reyes, but they had to suspend their efforts because it was getting too dark.
Coast Guard divers searched for much of today as well, and they still couldn't find the body of the other unidentified young man. One of the divers discussed the difficulties they were facing:
"We resumed search about 8:30 this morning and we did both sides, we did surface searches in the canoe about 300 yards going down stream. We did both sides and come down the middle and then we did dives similar to how we did the surface search along both ends but so we didn't come up with anything. We break off for lunch after which we did another surface search a while ago."
"After so many hours, what are the probabilities of you guys finding the body?"
"Well right about now we just basing off what the locals are saying; but the way I see it I don't know if the body is there or not but hopefully it surfaces before the end of the day."
"Also many residences are asking if there is a second body. Do you guys believe that there in a second body in the water?"
"Well if there is a second body, I don't think it's around this area at this time because we dived basically all the areas so we are going to do one more dive in the middle of the river and if not then we will call it a day."
"After you guys search the middle of the river will you be expanding further down in the river?"
"Well probably tomorrow based on other information."
We understand that Coast Guard has suspended the search for the day once again. They intend to comb the banks tomorrowwhile the diving resumes because it is expected that by now, the body will rise to the surface. The Coast Guard wants to discover this other body before it starts giving off odors which will attract wild animals, such as crocodiles - which, as we told you - was spotted the day they went missing.