While safety remains a paramount feature of the annual canoe race, this morning veteran paddler Armin Lopez averted tragedy in the waters of the Belize River when he dove to the aid of a drowning serviceman. The incident happened in the area of Valley of Peace where Lopez’s fourth place team, the Belize Bank Bulldogs, was alerted that someone had gone under. The men wasted no time in racing to the area where he was last seen. Lopez immediately jumped into the river and was subsequently able to rescue the submerged swimmer. With no formal knowledge of CPR, Lopez applied the procedure blindly and fortunately, was able to resuscitate the young man.
Armin Lopez, Belize Bank Bulldogs
“First of all, I want to give thanks to god that we finish this stage here. We happy that we friend get save at Valley of Peace. We never know anybody was drowning; dehn tell we somebody mi di drown and my bredda jump and we haul out the man. I noh know nothing about CPR, but I pump the man chest and I pump ahn till I hear the man make noise…I done know that the man come back and thanks to god that the man make it.”
“And this was a service person?”
“I think so. I think it was a service person.”
“Were you able to identify who this individual was afterwards or you just administered CPR and got back into the canoe and continued the leg of the race.”
“Well dah my friend. I know the man good from Cayo; dehn call the man “Shorts.” When I saw the man all I did was pray to god that the man come back while I mi di pump the man chest and thank god the man come back.”
“Now undoubtedly this affected your position or your standing in the race. In terms of what could have happened should this incident not have taken place in the waters, do you think you would have fared off better in terms of your placement in the leg of the race today?”
“No, I think dehn bwai deh ina shape. Dehn bally done mi drop we. I just happy that man noh drowned. I mean this year dah dehn bally race, but we noh give up yet. We just want big up Belize Bank. We did give it we best. We know that once we slip, dehn bally mi wah drop we. But the race noh done yet. I know it is hard, but nothing is impossible.”
The annual Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge culminates at the foot of the Belcan Bridge on Monday.