Antonio Lorenzo Depaz, 43-year-old boat captain of San Pedro Town, has been released on bail of $5,000 and a surety of the same amount after he was arraigned in the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court on charges of manslaughter by negligence and causing death by careless conduct.
He is being charged for the death of Cesar Scott, his passenger, and for severe injury to Manuel De Jesus Muñoz, also a passenger, after a collision at sea that caused the death of Cesar Scott. on Wednesday, December 8.
The deadly collision was between the 25 foot skiff, the Tio John, owned by the Coastal Xpress Water Taxi and piloted by Luis Alberto Paz, and Right Now, a 24 foot skiff belonging to Sueño del Norte Resort.
The Tio Juan had seven passengers a on board. The other boat, the Right Now a 24 foot skiff, owned by Sueno Del Mar Resort, was piloted by Antonio Lorenzo Depaz.
The captain of the Tio Juan, Alberto Paz said he did not see the other boat’s running lights as it burst out of the darkness and crashed into the Tio Juan.
Some of the seven passengers onboard the Tio John were hurt by the impact. Belizean Lynn Toney suffered a dislocated right shoulder and other passengers received various degree of injuries.
Ceasar Scott, aboard the Right Now, was killed immediately from a fatal skull injury, and Depaz himself suffered a dislocated shoulder, broken arms and a broken hip.
Police investigations into the collision found fault with Depaz’ handling of his boat. He was taken to court on Monday and formally charged with manslaughter by negligence.
The deceased Cesar Scott, the father of two children had recently begun to work with the Sueño Del Mar Resort.
Darrell Williams, the owner of the Tio Juan Water Taxi, has said that the lack of lights on the Sueño Del Mar boat was a key factor in the accident.
He recalled that the Tio John left San Pedro around 6:30 on Sunday evening, heading north with seven passengers on board when suddenly the boat was hit. There was a loud bang and the boat with its passengers received a violent blow. After a few seconds the captain and passengers realized that another boat had crashed into them.
The Belize Port Authority worked with the San Pedro Police to investigate the cause of the collision.
Collisions in the open waters of Belize are extremely rare, but in the busy sea lanes of San Pedro extra care is needed, especially at night.