Seven men set out to sea exactly three years ago. Six were never seen again and the body of the other washed up on the reef days later. Magistrate Richard Swift died from a punctured liver. Their vessel was also found near Gallows Point. It is not known what transpired on that fishing trip and the case of the six missing fishermen remains an unsolved mystery. News Five’s Marion Ali looks back at that incident.
Marion Ali, Reporting
Today marks three years since seven anglers went missing at sea without a trace, except for one whose body later washed up in waters just off the coast of Belize a few days later. The seven men, Derrick Escobar, father and son, Ismael and Abner Quiros, Egbert “Nick” Nicholson, Ealon Reyes and Gustavo Briceno and Magistrate Richard Swift left Belize City on a fishing trip at around nine on Sunday November fourth aboard a twenty foot Mexican skiff en route to their usual fishing grounds between Long Caye and English Caye.
The vessel was discovered two days later on November sixth after it was spotted by a fisherman near Gallows Point. Officials found the submerged skiff named “Ocean Hopper”, stripped of its awning and engine, but the key was still in the ignition. After several air and sea searches by joint Police, BDF and Coast Guard personnel and individual search teams, there was still no sign of the anglers.
No sign, that is, until November tenth when the decomposing corpse of Magistrate Richard Swift was found on Middle Caye at Glover’s Reef, some sixty miles southwest of where the boat was discovered. Forensic pathologist, Dr. Mario Estradabran, concluded that Swift met a violent death when a blunt object to his midsection broke two of his ribs which then punctured his liver. Swift had just returned to Belize a couple months before and was presiding Magistrate in Belmopan.
While the search efforts have long been called off, the families of the missing men still hold onto a glimmer of hope that someday, by some miracle, they will receive news that their loved ones have been found. Marion Ali for News Five.
Meanwhile, in a more recent case, a search has also been discontinued for Barrington Gomez, who along with two other fishermen encountered rough seas during Hurricane Richard on Sunday October twenty-fourth.