A family from Sarteneja narrowly escaped tragedy at sea as they headed to Xcalak, the southern most town of Mexico. The ordeal happened over the weekend as the group of thirteen was well on its way to visit family. Some held on to a rope tied to the bow of the vessel and others used life vests to stay afloat. Duane Moody headed north and spoke to two survivors.

Duane Moody, Reporting
The group of ten adults and three minors, set sail to Xcalak to visit their relative when approximately eight miles into the journey, their twenty-three foot skiff, Leany, overturned in the choppy waters. All thirteen passengers were thrown overboard and today told their story as they were release from the Corozal Community Hospital. Survivor, Mario Mora says they thought they were dead.

Mario Mora, Survived Accident
“We left Sarteneja around ten-thirty, eleven o’clock and on our waiting the sea was rough, noh and accompanying us were people that could not swim, myself and the sea was rough. I think a big wave, two or three of them, one after the other followed and the water went into the skiff and that cause panic between the children and even some people that could swim and it start to move and that made it worst and that made it just sink. The back part where the monitor boat was, that was first part to sink and the front part that stayed a float and that’s where I think, let me see, one, two, four, seven of us, were on to the boat. We tied the rope to the front to the motor board and that’s where we put our—we hold on to the rope and that’s why we have these swollen hands and swollen feet because that’s where we hold on for almost twenty-two hours.”

Mario’s mother, Adriana and nine year old Darlene Reina were the last two to be rescued from the perilous waters.

Duane Moody
“Ms. Mora, you spent the longest in the water, you know fighting for you life and that of your grandchild. How did you do it?”

Adriana Mora, Survived Accident
“Well, I don’t know, we just came out of the skiff you know and I went floating and we were trying to see land but we couldn’t. And when I noticed I was alone with a little girl nine years old, I had her hold and a gallon of gasoline with my next hand and I just went and I just went and went, looking to see a piece of land, you know because of the high waves, the sea was rough, it just couldn’t get there. So I think that was from about twelve o’clock. My hands were swollen, they had to cut my ring and you know and inside my hands and then I had pain, I am still having pain and I am not so well. I can’t walk, I have a weakness in my body.”

Duane Moody
“I understand that thirteen of you were in that skiff, do you feel that because there a lot of people it kinda sank?”

Adriana Mora
“I don’t think so, I don’t think so. I think it’s because the sea was a bit rough and I think that’s the reason why. I don’t think it’s because the skiff was too small.”

Superintendent Miguel Guzman of Corozal Police says they received word of the missing family from relatives who were expecting them.

Supt. Miguel Guzman, Officer Commanding, Corozal Police
“At dawn Saturday morning, both of these people--the people from Sarteneja involved in the rescue as well as the coat guard and the B.D.F Defender launch a—I confirmed with the Mexican authorities that they have also launched off helicopters, as well as vessels--the military of course they remain more on the Mexican side of it but just in the event that these people may have drifted over night and gone over there, they would have been able to locate them. At about ten o’clock Saturday morning, I received a call that two females had been rescued and I later learn the names to be—the names of the females to be Adriana Mora, who is fifty-seven years old and Darlene Reina.”

“The captain of the boat was one Chrispino Verde, he’s a twenty-four years Belizean fisherman of Sarteneja Village, he was accompanied at time by Orlanda Arceo; thirty-seven years, Belizean house-wife, Edmundo Arceo; thirty-three years, fisherman of Sarteneja, Natalie Arceo; four years of age, she’s a student, Edmundo Arceo Jr; eight years, Mario Mora Jr.; thirty-nine years, I think he’s a teacher or principal of Sarteneja Village, Mario Mora; sixty-one years, Robaldo Reina; fifty-one years, Isaac Reina; fifteen years, Sandra Reina; thirty-fours years and I think we have Rebecca Reina; sixteen years. Those are the people along with the two females I mentioned earlier.”

The coastguard also rendered their expertise in the rescue mission at sea.

Admiral Cedric Borland, Commandant, Belize Nat’l Coast Guard
“About eight o’clock, we responded with our vessel from San Pedro to conduct that search in the area where we told the boat went missing in the area—Saturday morning, we were in the area, along with several civilian vessels conducting a search as well, we also had the assistant from the B.D.F Air Wing who flew over the area. During the course of Saturday the people were recovered and we also had assistance from the Mexican counter parts as well.”

Borland emphasized that life jackets should be used when travelling the waters and small vessels should not be overloaded with passengers. The Mora Family says it is their faith that has them alive.

Adriana Mora, Survivor
“I praise the lord for that and I will never stop praising him because he is the one that saved our lives.”

Duane Moody, reporting for News Five.