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Four tourists missing at sea

Posted By: Marty

Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 12:40 AM

FOUR TOURISTS REMAIN MISSING AT SEA


Four tourists remain missing after a Saturday dive trip near Small Water Caye. The boat Advance One left Placencia arouind ten o'clock Saturday morning with dive masters Vance Cabral and Henry Tucker, and a group of 12 tourists. Late Saturday evening Tucker and four of the tourists reportedly decided to go diving. Cabral and the other tourists remained on Little Water Caye. Tucker, the boat, and the four tourists went missing until Tucker made contact with the mainland around midnight last night. He told authorities that the boat had engine problems and that he and the tourists had abandoned the boat and that he swam some eight hours before reaching land. Police, BDF, and private citizens have joined in a search to find the four missing people.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 12:51 AM

Never abandon your boat if it's still floating! Even if you have a life raft it should be used as a last resort. Many people are lost when they abandon ship, the sad thing is that the vessel is often found empty later. A boat is a lot easier to see in the water than a person.
Posted By: GRAFFICE

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 01:40 AM

Any update on those that stayed on Little Water Caye? Are they back in town safely?
Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 01:54 AM

Found the divers, not sure what condition they are in. Snorkelers were back in town safely yesterday afternoon.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 01:58 AM

BTIA Media Statement - Placencia Diving Incident

PLACENCIA, Belize (October 24, 2005) - The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) would like to make the following official statement with regard the current situation concerning the diving incident in Placencia Village that was first reported on Saturday 22 October 2005.

On Saturday October 22nd, Advanced Diving, a tour operator based out of the Placencia area took a tour with six snorkellers and four divers to the Silk Cayes. The divers with their guide departed for their first dive destination at approximately 11:00 am, leaving the snorkellers and another guide at the South Silk Caye. Shortly after the boat departed the snorkeling guide noticed that the boat had stopped, not at its correct location. Unable to contact them directly the guide continued to monitor the boat's location which could be seen from the Caye. When it became apparent that the un-motorized boat appeared to be drifting off course, the guide became increasingly concerned and decided to raise an alarm. He did that by swimming to Harvest Caye and then on to Little Water Caye where he obtained help from the rangers that are stationed there.

The rangers along with the snorkel guide immediately began a search and rescue. As night approached, more assistance was sought from members of the local tour guide association who assembled a search party. Other members of the community sought aerial support from the Belize Defense Force Maritime Wing and the British Army Camp. This help came after daybreak Sunday morning at which time the boat and divers had not been located.

The search continued throughout Sunday and Monday spanning from south of the Silk Cayes northward to the Glover's Reef area and expanding as far south as Hunting Caye. At 1:00 am this morning, Monday October 24th, the dive guide who had been with the missing party swam ashore at Glover's Reef. The guide joined the search early Monday morning giving all information that he had in regards to the four missing divers and the boat. He told the search party that against his persistent advice to stay with the boat and await rescue, the four divers wearing full dive gear, decided to try and swim for the Silk Caye while it was still within sight on Saturday. The guide stayed with the boat until late Sunday afternoon when it had drifted within sight of Glover's Reef at which time he made the decision to attempt to swim to the Caye. As of 4:00 o'clock pm Monday October 24, 2005 the search still continues.

Advanced Diving is owned and operated by Vance Cabral. Dive guide on the tour was Mark Tucker. The six snorkellers have been returned safely to their accommodations in Placencia Village. The four missing divers are two male and two female, - international visitors.

The local Placencia BTIA Chapter and the Placencia Tourism Center are fielding inquiries from their membership and the local community to ensure the information being circulated is accurate. The office will be open from 9:00 - 11:30 am and 1:00 - 5:00 pm for further information.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 02:17 AM

Katie Valk is saying that they've been found! Hopefully in good condition.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 06:18 AM

Channel 7's coverage...diving accident/incident
off Placencia Peninsula, Belize.

4 Tourists Lost At Sea: 3 Survive; 1 Dead
Belize is one of the world's premier diving
attraction but tonight it is facing the greatest
diving disaster this country has seen. Tonight
all we know is that four American tourists are
missing in Belize's southern seas and they have
not been seen for over 48 hours. he four tourists
two male and two females were part of a group of
10 who left Placencia on Saturday morning on
rough seas for a snorkeling and diving tour with
Advanced Diving Tours. So far only the six
snorkelers and the two guides have returned.
7NEWS joined the searched above Placencia today
and Keith Swift has the story.

Keith Swift Reporting, [[email protected]]
Somewhere in this vast expanse of the Caribbean
Sea four tourists are stranded. BDF Defender
aircrafts are leading the aerial search in the
seas off of the Placencia lagoon. For a total of
14 hours yesterday, Major Ganey Dortch flew over
miles upon miles of open sea at an altitude of
only 500 feet looking for any sign of the missing
divers. He found none and today he was back on
the trail.

Major Ganey Dortch, BDF Pilot
"The Defender was dispatched to the area to
conduct a search and rescue and since then we
have done four missions, each approximately
between three and four hours. What we did was an
expanded search. Based on the currents we
established a datum and the datum is
approximately five miles east from Silk Caye from
which a search was conducted south and subsequent
to that we have been searching and concentrating
our efforts from five miles east of Silk Caye to
approximately forty miles north and then
southwest towards the Honduran coast."

Keith Swift,
See any signs of life out there?

Major Ganey Dortch,
"Negative."

Coordinating the search on the ground is
Placencia dive expert Brian Young. He turned down
taking the group out diving on Saturday but is
now an integral part of the search.

Brian Young, Dive Master
"Right now from Placencia we have maybe a minimum
of six boats out searching right now and I'm
assisting the BDF right now with their search.
We're about to go up on a next search. These guys
have been flying from yesterday, probably putting
in over ten hours yesterday."

Major Ganey Dortch,
"Normally we will hope for three days but to be
very honest with you, one can sustain life for
seven days without food if they have access to
water. From what we have been told, with the
condition of the divers where they have wet
suits, they can actually survive in this type of
environment for approximately three to seven
days."

That is the hope Harp Scott is clinging to. He
came to Placencia with his close friend
37-year-old nurse Nancy Masters a week ago. They
both went on the dive trip but only he returned.
Nancy is still missing.

Harp Scott, Friend is Missing
"On Saturday we went out on a snorkeling and
scuba diving trip with Advanced Diving and I
snorkeled and Nancy scuba dived. Apparently the
boat lost power and was drifting at sea and the
divers, they don't know where the divers are at
this point. Its two days now and from what we've
heard from the dive master, who they recovered
from Glover's Reef, he said they dove into the
water at some point when they could still see
Silk Caye and they tried to swim to shore."

Keith Swift,
Is Nancy an experienced diver?

Harp Scott,
"Yes she had her advanced diving certificate. She
had been diving in Caye Caulker before and she
was an experienced swimmer and the other three
divers were as well."

Keith Swift,
We know you were supposed to leave today but you
are staying. When will you give up?

Harp Scott,
"I am not sure."

But one couple leaving is Randall Schriener and
Rebecca Hey.

Rebecca Hey, Survivor
"Nancy and Harp were with us on Friday when we
went to Monkey River so we got to know them on
Friday and Harp doesn't know what to do, he has
just been pacing the dock. Even if we thought
that they would have picked them up on Saturday
or Sunday just knowing how much trauma that is
and now I don't they are going to pick them up at
all." [Sobbing.]

We met them at the Phillip Goldson Airport on
their way back to Alaska.

Rebecca Hey,
"The six of us snorkelers got off with Vance onto
Silk Caye and the four divers stayed on the boat
and they went off to do their dive. We were
snorkeling for an hour just having fun and Vance
was watching the boat with the binoculars and
after a little bit he started to say he was
getting nervous because they hadn't gotten off
the boat and they should be coming back in, they
should be done with their diving, they're just
sitting in the boat and the canopy is down, and
he was wondering if they were having engine
trouble."

That is when guide leader Vance Cabral jumped in
the sea and went looking for the group of divers
- leaving his group abandoned on Little Water
Caye.

Rebecca Hey,
"It got dark and the other four were standing
around smoking and Randall and I were more
concerned about getting coconuts and fluid and I
was more concerned about setting up a shelter for
the wind because I figured we were spending the
night there. And we started watching the lights
off the distance and about an hour and a half
after sunset we saw a light coming out from
Little Water Caye towards our island and they
landed it was Vance and one of the rangers.
Randall and Andrew were signaling with the
flashes on their cameras to let them know where
we were. So it was exciting when the boat got
there because I didn't want to spend the night
there."

After that rescue two nights ago - the second
dive master Henry Mark Tucker turned up last
night. He surfaced on Glover's Reef and told
police that when the boat began experiencing
engine trouble - they all jumped out of the boat.
Unfortunately, so far only he has made it safety.


Brian Young,
"The boat is still out there. According to Mr.
Tucker the other four persons, when the boat was
drifting between 11 and 12 o'clock on Saturday,
he tried to keep them on the boat but they didn't
want to stay. Mr. Tucker's words is that the four
of them ganged today and decided they could make
it to Silk Caye and Mr. Tucker just learnt last
night when he called in that we haven't found
those four people. He has no idea why they
couldn't make that short distance swim.

Being a diver myself and a instructor I am
optimistic that these people are out there, still
alive, still floating. They just probably
misjudged the distance they had to swim in and
couldn't make it because it was a very strong
southwesterly wind that day so it probably took
them out to see. But I am optimistic about it, I
still believe they are out there."

Keith Swift,
As a diver yourself, do you think they should
have gone out there given the weather conditions?

Brian Young,
"I don't want to speculate on anything right now.
Those are up to the authorities."

Hey says in hindsight maybe they should have
obeyed the small craft warnings.

Rebecca Hey,
"We have fault because all the other dive shops
didn't want to go out on Saturday and apparently
there was a small craft warning. But we wanted to
go and Advance Diving was willing to take us and
so we decided to go even though the last place we
checked said it was to rough. But we know that
things happen but we're upset knowing there was
no radio and no backup engine on the boat we went
on. And we know now that is something we will
never do again, just go out with somebody who
doesn't have backup."

Harp Scott,
"I think things would have happened very
differently if the boat had been operational and
I also think if they had an anchor they would
have been fine. At no point did I feel unsafe on
the way out and I didn't feel unsafe while I was
on the island and its unfortunate that they
drifted further than would have without the
weather conditions but I don't think it was a bad
decision."

Keith Swift,
What is your hope right now?

Harp Scott,
"That the divers are rescued today."

Keith Swift,
And if not?

Harp Scott,
"I'll be really upset."

Uncertainty from one survivor to a certainty from
another.

Randall Schriener,
"Its definitely something we're going to remember
forever. It's not something we can forget about.
I wouldn't use it as a deterrent to anybody to
deter them from coming here. The trip was
wonderful except for our friends who are still
out there."

And while we know they are somewhere in miles of
sea - the questions tonight are where and after
more than 48 hours - in what condition might they
be? The answer to those chilling questions lie
somewhere out here.

JUST IN: Word just in to 7NEWS from Placencia is
that about 4 pm a BDF aerial search team located
one of the missing divers 23.5 miles southeast of
Glover's Reef. They then spotted a second body
floating and later they spotted two more
survivors. Three of the divers survived and one
died (male). About an hour and a half later a
search boat responded and transferred the three
survivors and the casualty to the hospital.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 06:29 AM

boat safety thread

//ambergriscaye.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=6&t=003695
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 06:10 PM

Four Missing Tourists Found

Four SCUBA divers including several Americans who are in Belize as tourists were recovered Monday night after having being missing for 3 days at sea. Three were found alive and badly dehydrated. The other is dead. No identity has been given for the casualty except to say he is male. They were located near dark yesterday by an aircraft from the Belize Defence Force. They have been transported to a local hospital.

Local TV stations report that on Saturday the dive boat Advance 1 left the Placencia Peninsula with ten tourists for a SCUBA dive near South Silk Caye in southern Belize.

Six of the tourists disembarked on a small island along with boat captain Vance Cabral. Four divers then went out to a nearby dive spot with their Belizean Dive Master Henry "Bee Bee" Tucker on the dive boat. The tourists and boat captain who remained behind then reported seeing the boat drifting away and appearing to be having engine trouble.

The Dive Master later reported that the four divers jumped into the sea and attempted to reach Silk Caye after his engines died and the boat began to drift out to the open sea.

They were identified as American tourists twenty-eight year old Abigail Brinkman, thirty-eight year old Nancy Masters, fifty year old John Bain, and thirty-four year old Yutaka Mayeda, a visitor from Japan.

Tucker stayed on board, drifting more than twenty hours north, until he got within sight of Northeast Caye on the Glover’s Reef Atoll. Desperate, around midnight Sunday night, he jumped overboard, swimming approximately eight hours before making it to dry land.
Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 07:46 PM

The deceased diver is the young woman, Abigail Brinkman, a med student. Located about 4pm yesterday, close to Glovers, where the dive master drifted and swam to. Condolances to the family.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/25/05 09:16 PM

Fishermen find one dead, three survivors of missing group of divers in Belize

09:15 2005-10-25
A fishing vessel found three divers who had been missing since Saturday and the body of a fourth floating in the waters off Belize on Monday.

It was unclear whether the mishap was caused by Hurricane Wilma, which had passed by further out to sea hours before, or by engine problems aboard the boat which may have sparked a failed attempt to swim to shore.

The divers apparently had floatation devices that allowed them to keep afloat during their three-day ordeal at sea. No cause of death was provided for the diver found dead.

The survivors were flown to a small military hospital outside Belize City, after the Honduran fishing boat plucked them from the sea.

The three were to be taken later to the Universal Hospital, a private hospital in the capital, said police spokesman G. Michael Reed.

A Belizean military aircraft spotted the divers on a reconnaissance flight earlier in the day and alerted vessels in the area to rescue them.

No immediate information was available on the names and nationalities of the divers, two men and two women.

The group was part of a 12-person expedition which left South Silk Caye, 15 miles (25 kms) south of the southern resort community of Placencia, on Saturday morning despite a small craft warning and extremely rough seas and strong winds in the wake of Hurricane Wilma.

Part of the group had remained at the caye; the group's boat developed engine troubles, and some members the missing divers apparently tried to swim to a nearby island, and may have been swept away be currents, reports the AP.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/26/05 03:11 PM

More from Channel 7:

Rescued Divers Critical But Stable
They were lost at sea for 55 hours, but yesterday afternoon, three of the lost divers were found alive. The survivors are 34-year-old Japanese national Yutaka Maeda and Americans 38-year-old Nancy Masters and 50-year-old John Bain. 28-year-old Abigale Brinkman a medical student who did not have a wet suit, didn't make it. The divers were spotted by a BDF aerial search team about 23 miles southeast of Glover's Reef Atoll.

We will hear firsthand from the BDF pilots about their dramatic rescue in a few but first...tonight the three survivors are listed in critical but stable condition at the Universal Health Hospital in the city. They were airlifted by helicopter from Southwest Caye to Universal's Helipad where they were admitted into the intensive care unit. Universal's Dr. Victor Lizarraga attended to all three and he says that the divers are well on the way to recovery.

Dr. Victor Lizarraga, Universal Health Services
"They arrived in pretty bad shape. They were very dehydrated, hypothermic, badly sun burnt, and one was semi-conscious. They were brought directly to our emergency room where we started resuscitating measures. The most important thing was dehydration and hypothermia along with metabolic abnormalities because of drinking of sea water. They were severely burnt. They are clear skinned people and they had stayed in the water so especially the upper part of the body was damaged and at least one of them was exposed to bites from little jellyfish in the water. Today they are not as critical as yesterday, they are getting better, and they will do very well."

Keith Swift,
How longer would they have been able to survive out there?

Dr. Victor Lizarraga,
"Well I'll tell you they did very well to survive for two days, especially since the weather is pretty chilly right now with Wilma passing and so on. The waters would have cooled off tremendously so they are pretty tough."

Keith Swift,
How lucky are these people to be alive?

Dr. Victor Lizarraga,
"Very lucky, very lucky. They are lucky to have been found. They couldn't have lasted another day. Kudos to the BDF."

Abigale Brinkman was taken to the KHMH for a post mortem. Police note that bruises were found around her neck.






The Heroic Rescue That Almost Wasn't...
And as Lizarraga pointed out it is thanks to the BDF. In the two-day search, the BDF Air Wing flew over the search area for more than 20 hours under the leadership of Major Ganney Dortch. Today he told us that the Defender was just about to retreat for the night, because they were running out of fuel, when they spotted a female survivor. Major Dortch says the soldiers made a split second, life saving decision.

Major Ganney Dortch, BDF Pilot
"Just about the last 20 minutes of flight the pilot had declared his intention to bring in the search to a halt. He declared his fuel state as being low and on sighting the first body it brought life to us and it gave us some great sense of achievement and as a result of that we had to make a decision for that airplane to extend out and eventually it landed at Placencia with only a couple of gallons remaining in the tanks which proved to have been very fruitful."

Keith Swift,
What reaction did they have when they saw the plane overhead?

Major Ganney Dortch,
"On the initial contact, on declaration of possible sight of a body, the female that was sighted first took off her fins and started to wave in excitement and after that we could have actually heard the two pilots in the background with some sense of achievement. As a result of that we then started to go in the second stage of our searching method where, since we had located one person in that general vicinity we started to do a tighter search. The airplane then descended from 800 feet to approximately 500 feet and a dinghy was dropped to one of the survivors so she could have inflated it and eventually climb into it. Unfortunately, it is our belief, that she was a bit weak. She swam for approximately ten meters and she just saw the dinghy floating and couldn't do anything about it."

Keith Swift,
Do you guys feel like hero for saving these three lives?

Major Ganney Dortch,
"Firstly, being a military personnel I do not take rewards. We do what we are supposed to do the best of our knowledge and the best of our ability and that is what gives us great pride and a sense of achievement."

Keith Swift,
I know you met the survivors this morning. What did they say to you?

Major Ganney Dortch,
"Well one of the females mentioned that if she weren't in that condition, she would have gotten up and hugged us. You could have seen a great sense of thanks from these people. I literally couldn't bear the sight. I couldn't believe that these people had lasted some 40 plus hours out there at sea and I must at this stage commend them for a job well done. I think that they were responsible for saving their lives because living out there on the sea for 40 plus hours is a bit difficult."

We note that Placencia dive master Brian Young, who we interviewed last night, was also on the search mission which found the survivors. Major Dortch and the other pilots had to spend the night in Placencia because they were low on fuel after the successful rescue. This morning the first order of business when they landed in Belize City was to visit with the survivors at Universal Hospital.
Posted By: mobunny

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/26/05 08:33 PM

Does any one know if the boat turned up? mo
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/26/05 08:49 PM

Three missing divers rescued; one doesn't make it

When we signed off on this broadcast last night it was with the news that the four divers missing at sea since Saturday had been spotted by a B.D.F. aircraft. Tonight we can report that three of them have survived and are recovering at a Belize City hospital. Although the survivors have yet to tell their tale, today I was able to piece together some details of their ordeal and the implications of the tragedy.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
After drifting at sea for more than two days, at approximately six thirty on Monday night, four scuba divers, last seen near Silk Caye, were pulled from the water some twenty miles south east of North East Caye on Glover’s Reef. The four divers were found in the same area, but were floating separately from each other.

Terribly dehydrated and sunburnt, three of the divers had survived their traumatic ordeal at sea, but twenty-eight year old Abigail Brinkman, the only one not wearing a wetsuit, did not. Her body has been transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where a post-mortem was conducted this afternoon.

The survivors: thirty-eighth year old Nancy Masters, fifty year old John Bain, and thirty-four year old Yutaka Maeda were later airlifted by BATSUB helicopter from South Water Caye to Universal Health Services in Belize City.

Dr. Victor Lizarraga, Universal Health Services
”They were hypothermic, dehydrated, not only that, but had ingested quite a bit of salt water, badly sunburnt, all fair skinned people, no food, very hungry.”

“They got disoriented after a while, so fortunately those that survived had on wet suits, and the one who did not survive didn’t have a wet suit. And according to them, she passed with time, she just couldn’t make it. But their ordeal was really terrible, they are lucky to alive.”

Dr. Victor Lizarraga is one of the attending physicians treating the survivors.

Dr. Victor Lizarraga
”One was in bad shape, the smaller of the three, more hypothermic than the rest. At that point in time what we do is immediate resuscitative measures with intravenous fluid rehydration. One of the problems with ingesting seawater is that you get metabolic problems, so we had to check that right away and warm them up as quickly as possible. The big problem right now is the burns, the two days of sun; it will take a while for that to get fully recovered.”

Janelle Chanona
“First, second, third degree?”

Dr. Victor Lizarraga
”The probably have second degree burns, it's sunray burns and mainly it’s the upper part of the body, the exposed part of the body. But they are already drinking and eating, their other electrolyte and metabolic problems are being corrected right now. They should be in good shape tomorrow, better shape, I shouldn’t say good, but better shape than they were when they came in.”

It was nurse Nancy Masters who used what little strength she had left to wave to the B.D.F. defender flying overhead during a massive international search and rescue effort. That was at exactly three minutes to three on Monday afternoon. Officers on board the aircraft called in to the nearest land base, Northeast Caye, and using G.P.S. coordinates all boats in the area were immediately dispatched to the site.

Abigail Brinkman had arrived in Belize on Saturday, October first. A medical student from the U.S. state of Indiana, Brinkman was doing volunteer work in fulfilment of her degree requirements at the Jericho Hillside Clinic in Elridgeville in the Toledo District. Tonight we understand she was scheduled to leave the country this weekend. Co-workers at the clinic today remembered her love for diving and how excited she was after a series of dives off Ambergris Caye earlier this month.

Brinkman was part of a group that left Placencia around ten-thirty on Saturday morning. Six stayed on Silk Caye to snorkel, while the foursome left with dive master Henry “Bee Bee” Tucker to Gladden Spit. Sources tonight indicate that shortly after the group finished their first dive, Tucker discovered that the engine wouldn’t start, apparently because water had gotten into the gas tank. This morning, Tucker told News Five that on directives of the Belize Police Department, he was unable to make an official comment on the incident. However, according to a press release issued by the Belize Tourism Industry Association on Monday afternoon, Tucker had asked the divers to stay on the boat until help came.

B.T.I.A. Press Release:
“He [Henry Mark Tucker] told the search party that against his persistent advice to stay with the boat and await rescue, the four divers, wearing full dive gear, decided to try and swim for Silk Caye while it was still within sight on Saturday.”

This is the second time in less than a year in which Advance Diving has been involved in a diving mishap. On December twenty-ninth, 2004, owner/operator the dive shop Vance Cabral was behind the wheel of the same vessel, Advance One, when it capsized in rough seas near South Water Caye with ten divers on board. While no one was injured in that incident, the Belize Tour Operators Committee, a subsidiary of the Belize Tourism Board, had suspended Cabral’s tour guide license for one month, put him on a one year probation, and mandated that standard safety measures be on board at all times. Tonight News Five understands that both Cabral and Tuckers’ tour guide licenses were expired at the time of the latest incident. Although the B.T.B. could not confirm that information, Product Development Manager Anthony Mahler told News Five that the committee will meet this Friday to discuss the fate of Advance Diving.

Anthony Mahler, Product Dev. Mgr., Belize Tourism Board
”It doesn’t look good for Mr. Cabral, I can say that. He’s under probation at this point in time and according to the tourists that were onboard with him, most of the dive shops refused to take them out on that day and he chose to, knowing that this was a critical incident that happened a few months ago and he was still under probation. So it doesn’t look good from my point at this time. But there is a committee made up of his peers and other public officers and we will decide that on Friday when we meet.”

Janelle Chanona
“What would be the types of measures that you could take, another suspension?”

Anthony Mahler
”Well this one involves a loss of life and maybe a total revocation of license, and so he wouldn’t be able to hold—I don’t want to speculate on what would be the outcome of that, but those are along the lines. Maybe a revocation for a year who knows, but this is a serious incident and we don’t take it very lightly and I’m sure he is going to be used as a guide on where we want the industry to go in terms of safety and standards. “

John Searle, PADI Course Director
”In general, Belize has very good safety standards. The standards are all in place. Most of the accidents that I am aware of have been things that really we could prevent.”

In the aftermath of the maritime disaster, this afternoon, the country’s first PADI course director John Searle, told News Five every diver should check for basic safety equipment on board before leaving the mainland. Communication equipment and life jackets are key, but things like wet suits, fluorescent flags, and signalling lights can make a big difference.

John Searle
”Things that I would be looking for would be emergency oxygen on board, certainly first aid kit, basic boating safety, items like your anchor, running lights, things like that as well.”

“There are lots of dive accessories that you can use as signalling devices in the case that you were doing a drift dive and maybe the boat lost contact with you, things that you could signal the boat or signal someone on shore with. Things like that would be maybe an air horn, an audible device like an air horn or a whistle and also they have devices that we call signal tubes that you basically inflate with air and they extend maybe six feet above the surface of the water.

According to officials at the United States Embassy in Belize City, fifty year old John Bain is from Kansasville, Wisconsin. Nancy Masters is a visitor from Portland, Oregon; while Yutaka Maeda is a Japanese citizen. Before coming to Belize, Abigail Brinkman was living in Indianapolis, Indiana. The group of divers were spotted by the sharp eyes of Lieutenant Christopher Neal and Captain Raymond Shepherd of the Belize Defence Force. On behalf of the victims' families, we thank them and everyone else who participated in the rescue effort.
Posted By: NYgal

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/27/05 01:56 AM

Great followup...Thank you.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/27/05 09:37 PM

The Heroic Rescue That Almost Wasn't...
posted (October 25, 2005)
And as Lizarraga pointed out it is thanks to the BDF. In the two-day
search, the BDF Air Wing flew over the search area for more than 20 hours
under the leadership of Major Ganney Dortch. Today he told us that the
Defender was just about to retreat for the night, because they were running
out of fuel, when they spotted a female survivor. Major Dortch says the
soldiers made a split second, life saving decision.

Major Ganney Dortch, BDF Pilot
"Just about the last 20 minutes of flight the pilot had declared his
intention to bring in the search to a halt. He declared his fuel state as
being low and on sighting the first body it brought life to us and it gave
us some great sense of achievement and as a result of that we had to make a
decision for that airplane to extend out and eventually it landed at
Placencia with only a couple of gallons remaining in the tanks which proved
to have been very fruitful."

Keith Swift,
What reaction did they have when they saw the plane overhead?

Major Ganney Dortch,
"On the initial contact, on declaration of possible sight of a body, the
female that was sighted first took off her fins and started to wave in
excitement and after that we could have actually heard the two pilots in the
background with some sense of achievement. As a result of that we then
started to go in the second stage of our searching method where, since we
had located one person in that general vicinity we started to do a tighter
search. The airplane then descended from 800 feet to approximately 500 feet
and a dinghy was dropped to one of the survivors so she could have inflated
it and eventually climb into it. Unfortunately, it is our belief, that she
was a bit weak. She swam for approximately ten meters and she just saw the
dinghy floating and couldn't do anything about it."

Keith Swift,
Do you guys feel like hero for saving these three lives?

Major Ganney Dortch,
"Firstly, being a military personnel I do not take rewards. We do what we
are supposed to do the best of our knowledge and the best of our ability and
that is what gives us great pride and a sense of achievement."

Keith Swift,
I know you met the survivors this morning. What did they say to you?

Major Ganney Dortch,
"Well one of the females mentioned that if she weren't in that condition,
she would have gotten up and hugged us. You could have seen a great sense of
thanks from these people. I literally couldn't bear the sight. I couldn't
believe that these people had lasted some 40 plus hours out there at sea and
I must at this stage commend them for a job well done. I think that they
were responsible for saving their lives because living out there on the sea
for 40 plus hours is a bit difficult."

We note that Placencia dive master Brian Young, who we interviewed last
night, was also on the search mission which found the survivors. Major
Dortch and the other pilots had to spend the night in Placencia because they
were low on fuel after the successful rescue. This morning the first order
of business when they landed in Belize City was to visit with the survivors
at Universal Hospital.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/28/05 02:58 AM

Scuba diver recalls horror of drifting at sea off Belize for three days
Powered by CDNN - CYBER DIVER News Network
by DEANNA MARTIN
PLACENCIA, Belize (26 Oct 2005) -- John Bain twice had watched the sun set as he drifted in the Caribbean Sea, and as a third sunset approached, he thought he might not survive another night.

Battered by waves, parched by the sun and saltwater and stung by a jellyfish, the 50-year-old Wisconsin lawyer thought of his family as he pondered how a weekend dive trip off Belize had ended with him and three other divers floating at sea for nearly three days, no dive boat or rescue in sight.

"There's a time or two when I wondered about giving it up," Bain said. "But I just didn't."

Bain spoke by phone from a Belize City hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia, sunburn and other injuries. He left the hospital Wednesday; two other divers, including one from Oregon, were still recovering.

The body of Columbus, Ind., native Abigail Brinkman, 28, was found floating in the area where Bain, along with Nancy Masters, 38, a nurse from Portland, Ore., and Yutaka Maeda, 34, a Japanese national, were rescued 2 ½ days after they went into the water.

The four were part of a 12-member dive trip that left South Silk Caye off the tiny Central American nation Saturday morning despite a small craft warning and rough seas in the wake of Hurricane Wilma.

After the boat began having mechanical problems, most of the expedition got off at an island, but the four divers continued on the trip.

"There were reports the anchor broke, the engine stopped, and the radio wasn't working," said Marco Prouty, an official with the U.S. Embassy in Belize. Belizean authorities were investigating.

Bain, a Racine, Wis., attorney, said the engine stopped once and was repaired, but then it stopped a second time and the boat began to drift. The divers decided to try to swim back to South Silk Caye, which he said was still in sight.

Bain, an experienced diver, said the water was still a "bit rough" from Hurricane Wilma, but he wasn't concerned about going out.

"If you're down diving, it really doesn't matter," he said of the surface conditions.

The group, however, found the conditions harsher than expected, Masters told Indianapolis television station WTHR.

"Once we got into the water, we realized that the waves were much larger than they even appeared," she said.

Bain said the group became separated. He said he and Maeda were together the first two days, strapped together at one point because Bain's buoyancy vest, which helps divers stay afloat, wasn't working properly.

The two eventually became separated, leaving Bain to face his third night at sea alone.

If it was like the others, he would spend it shivering uncontrollably, and wheezing from the salt water he had ingested. He would spend it trying to avoid being slammed by waves and blowing into his buoyancy vest every few minutes to keep it inflated.

As darkness approached, he saw what he thought was a search plane, which he said passed by at least twice in 40 minutes but apparently didn't see him.

Help finally arrived Monday evening, when a recreational boat pulled Bain aboard. The other two survivors were picked up by a Belize Defense Forces boat, which also recovered the body of Brinkman, who was not wearing a wetsuit.

Bain said thoughts of his family kept him going.

He said he'll probably dive again. But the memories of his days — and nights — in the water won't fade soon.

"You have no sense of direction," Bain said. "It gets cold, and there's nothing you can do but just wait it out. The nights last a long time."
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/29/05 09:40 AM

American diver tells harrowing tale of being lost at sea
American Nancy Masters is lucky to be alive. She and three companions on a dive trip last weekend wound up spending three days and two nights floating in the waters off Silk Caye after their boat developed engine trouble and their guide seemed unable to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, one of the group, Abigail Brinkman, did not make it. Today Masters was finally recovered enough to speak with News Five, but because she is still suffering from the effects of a terrible sunburn and prolonged exposure to the elements, she did not want to appear on camera. But Masters's voice clearly expresses her fear, strength, frustration, and the exhaustion of the ordeal... not to mention her anger at the man who put them all at risk.

Nancy Masters, Survivor
“I don’t think that Vance Cabral should be allowed to operate a dive company or be involved in one by any means. Somebody’s died because of his negligence basically, not basically, they have. It starts out that he doesn’t take care of his equipment and it’s compounded by the fact that he ignores small craft advisory warnings and he’s not truthful to his customers.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
When thirty-eight year old Nancy Masters left on a dive trip on Saturday morning, she had no idea her life was about to change forever. Masters was one of ten people who left Placencia Village and headed for Silk Caye with Advance Diving, a tour operator based on the peninsula. Masters says before they even got to the dive site at Gladden Spit, things started to go wrong...and kept getting worse.

Nancy Masters
”The divers went out and just two or three minutes away from the caye, the motor died again. And after many attempts “Bee Bee” was unable to fix it at all. And he just kept trying to fix it and kept trying to fix it and in the meantime we are floating further and further away from the caye. I asked him if we shouldn’t throw the anchor and he really didn’t do too much about it and eventually we threw the anchor. And then he noticed that the anchor didn’t seem to be working, so he went and checked on it and pulled it up and it had... it broke. Either it wasn’t tied properly in the first place to actually hold the boat or it simply broke from the chain. I’m not sure.”

“After the anchor broke, “Bee Bee” went back to try to take care of the motor and still no success, and I had asked him if the radio worked and it assured us that it did. And after a couple more minutes, another man that was on the boat, John, decided, you know we better get on the radio and call now. And the radio did not work. Three of us attempted to do something with it to make it work and that was not successful. So “Bee Bee” made a comment that we were basically floating to Jamaica because there was nothing else between where we were and Jamaica. And at this point, we could still see the caye quite well and so decided that we would dive it because the swells were somewhat large on top of the water, but diving underneath figured we’d miss. We all knew how to dive, we would just follow the compass and go.”

Janelle Chanona
“Via an official press release from the Belize Tourism Industry Association, Henry “Bee Bee” Tucker has maintained that: “Against his persistent advice to stay with the boat and await rescue, the four divers, wearing full dive gear, decided to try and swim for Silk Caye while it was still within sight on Saturday.”

Tonight Masters vehemently disputes Tucker’s claim.

Nancy Masters
”He did not advise us not to go and he does have more information about that than we do, but it just makes me extremely disappointed that he’s now lying about it, especially in the light of the fact that somebody died.”

“Bee Bee” started to helping us get ready, getting our stuff on and at first I had decided to go and John was going to go with me and then the other two other people on board, Abby and Yutaka wanted to go too. And of course, part of the reason, obviously we didn’t want to float out in the middle of sea, but also it was very uncomfortable in the boat, we were all starting to feel very sick. And so “Bee Bee” started getting stuff ready and he handed over tanks and the B.C. vests as they came up and the first one was the small one, which was Abby’s, so she put that on and got in, and then John and then Yutaka. But prior to that, I asked—we all looked at the equipment and surprisingly there was no compass on any of the regulators or the equipment with the regulators.”

“That’s how we ended up in the water, we decided that we were going to try to navigate by the sun, but due to the wave action, the light was too diffused and we were unable to tell through diving. So at that point we decided to surface swim it, but after that amount of time, the distance of the caye had increased quite a bit and it just ended up being more than we could do.”

Drifting on the endless sea, the four SCUBA divers watched hopelessly as darkness began to fall. More alarmingly, Masters soon found herself all alone in the water.

Nancy Masters
“Throughout the whole thing, even when it was difficult to swim, it never really, I never really believed that we wouldn’t make it. And I just knew that we needed at least one person to make it, because obviously Vance wouldn’t be out there with some form of communication, so somebody needed to make it to the caye. I saw that he had a cell phone, just to get out there to get help, to come help the people in the water and “Bee Bee” in the boat and I found out later that his cell phone wasn’t charged.”

“As it’s getting dark actually I can’t find Abby anymore because we had been swimming and the swells were getting larger. And so I started to, I wasn’t sure if I should just keep trying to swim for the caye or find Abby. At this point I’m still thinking that one of us needs to make it, but when I realized that I wasn’t going to make it, I tried to find Abby so that neither one of us would have to stay the night out there alone, which was certainly not an option that was preferred. So I actually swam back just a little bit and tried to look for her and never... she had on an orange swim cap so she had been pretty easy to see before that time and I didn’t think that I would lose sight of her, but the sea can be pretty tough so I don’t exactly where it took her from where it took me.”

“The nights were really long, the nights felt like they went on for weeks. The days in comparison were not that bad because you could see. The next day I thought there would be boats and planes all over the place and I just figured, we all have to just get through this night and then we’ll all be found in the morning. The next morning, I didn’t see any of that. During the night your mind plays a lot of tricks on you when you are out there and I honestly, I truly, truly believed that the other three had been found. You kind of nod off for short times and I think I must have dreamed it, but I absolutely believed that they had been found.”

“After the first night, I didn’t think I could handle a second night, but I was sure that all the boats and planes would be out and I would be in found. So I told myself if when the sun sets tomorrow night and you’re still out here then you can freak out, but in the meantime, that’s not an option.”

“I really thought Sunday night that I was going to get picked up by this trawler, I was so close. If I had swam that hard before it wouldn’t have been... it was so close, and it wasn’t moving and it was getting closer and closer and I was about, I’m not really good with, I was about fifty yards or so and it started to trawl...that hurt so bad!”

Masters said she realised she was in a shipping lane and was determined to get the attention of one of the captains. But then suddenly late Monday afternoon, there was the B.D.F. Defender.

Nancy Masters
”I heard it first and it went almost right over me, but gave no indication that it had seen me so I didn’t think it had. And that was right up there with the fishing trawler; that hurt. And it was even more discouraging in some ways because I thought this guy is flying so low and he was almost right over me and he didn’t see me, and if he didn’t see me that close, nobody’s ever going to see me in a plane.”

2nd Lt. Christopher Neal and Capt. Raymond Shepherd had seen Nancy Masters, and within the hour all four SCUBA divers were pulled from the water.

Nancy Masters
“I am so grateful to those people, everybody and the people in Placencia that were taking care of our friends that were back in there, being kind to them and you know, and there boats from Honduras and Guatemala looking for us as well, so you can’t really help but be really touched by what everybody from Belize and the other countries as well, but especially what the Belizean people put out trying to find us.”

Tonight Masters says prior to leaving the peninsula, they were never informed that there was a small craft warning in effect for Belize’s coastal waters.

Nancy Masters
“We have since learned that there was a small craft advisory, a warning, and we were not aware of that. Vance never mentioned to us that there was a warning. We chose Vance because we wanted to go to Glover’s Reef originally and the person we wanted to go with didn’t want to go for a day trip because it’s kinda far for a day and she said that sometimes Vance would go for day, so she gave us his number and his location.”

“We had heard from another couple who talked to somebody at Sea Horse that they weren’t going out that day, but they told us because the visibility was poor and not because of the ocean being too rough.”

“Basically you trust the divemaster, the captain of the boat isn’t going to put a group of people and himself and his boat in danger. So we figured you know it was a little choppy, but we at no point felt that we were in danger when we left. We trusted the person who we're going out with.”

Tonight as Masters continues her slow recovery from severe sunburn and metabolic shock, she remembers young Abigail Brinkman.

Nancy Masters
“She was just a beautiful person with a great spirit and she really loved Belize. She talked, I think that when we went out on dive, she was the person who was talking the most, just because she loved the area and she loved the country and the people and diving and life so much. She had a lot to give and she really appreciated everything that people were giving to her here. Her loss is so tragic and so unnecessary. Nobody should die because somebody isn’t taking care of their equipment.”

Masters and Yutaka Maeda departed the country today, while John Bain left earlier this week. Abigail Brinkman’s body was flown out of the country today. Before leaving, Masters and Maeda met with the B.D.F. soldiers who participated in rescue.
Today a meeting of the tour operators review board was held at the B.T.B. office to decide what if any penalties would be levied against Advanced Diving. Present at that meeting were various agencies including the Belize Port Authority. According to the Tourism Board's Anthony Mahler, he cannot comment on the recommendations made today until Advanced Diving owner Vance Cabral has been informed in writing.
Posted By: Casita Folks

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 10/31/05 09:03 PM

We will be going to Abby Brinkman calling hours at the funeral home in an hour and a half.
This has been a terrible tradgety for her family and we all should stop for a moment and say a prayer for them. " Columbus Indiana"
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/01/05 02:55 PM

Dive Shop's License REVOKED!

The decision was made on Friday and today tour operator Vance Cabral got the news that the now deadly diving trip that he led two Saturdays ago in Placencia was his last.

On Friday the 9 member Tour Operators Licensing Committee met and voted unanimously to revoke the license held by Cabral's Advance Diving Shop. In making its decision, the board reviewed the Police Department's report on last Saturday's incident which left four tourists stranded in the water's off of Placencia for nearly 55 hours. One of the tourists never made it and the ones who survived say the boat had no radio and no back up engine.

The board also considered that less than a year ago on December 28th Cabral was in another diving accident. In that incident a boat with 10 people was returning from Glover's Reef when it overturned. At that time, Cabral's license was suspended for one month and he was placed on probation for one year starting in January of this year. At the time of last Saturday's ill-fated trip, Cabral was still on probation.

Cabral's tour guide license expired in December of last year and his sideman Mark Tucker's license expired in April of this year. That means that both men who led the ill-fated tour in rough seas were not licensed to do so. That is a criminal offence, and the police are expected to bring charges for it. The BTB says it will recommend that the tour guide licensing committee similarly revoke Mark Tucker's guide license. Vance Cabral and his dive shop Advanced Diving will also be summoned for hiring an unlicensed guide, which is Mark Tucker.

Meanwhile a memorial service the dive trip's only casualty Abigale Brinkman will be held tomorrow in her hometown.
Posted By: travelqueen

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/01/05 09:31 PM

WOW! Absolutely devestating! I, at age 28 yrs., can empathize with Abigail and her family. Too sad for words......

Thanks for all of the news reports and up to date information.
Posted By: klcman

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/01/05 11:59 PM

Advanced Diving owner blames customers for Belize accident
Powered by CDNN - CYBER DIVER News Network
by LUTHER MONROE - CDNN Safety News Editor

Med student Abby Brinkman died on a scuba diving trip with Advanced Diving of Placencia Belize.

PLACENCIA, Belize (30 Oct 2005) -- A dive center owner in Belize has blamed customers for a dive trip accident in which an American tourist died and scuba divers were critically injured.

Advanced Diving owner Vance Cabral told reporters that the four divers who drifted at sea for three days ignored divemaster Henry "Bee Bee" Tucker who urged them to remain with the "Advanced One" dive boat after it lost power.

Cabral also says the boat was anchored despite reports that the vessel was drifting out to sea after its engine failed.

Despite small craft warnings, "Advanced One" left Placencia Silk Caye on Saturday, October 22 with a group of 10 divers and snorkelers.

The single engine vessel had no working radio, emergency signaling equipment nor drinking water for a trip to a destination located some 20 miles offshore.

Cabral, who has retained an attorney, declined to comment on reports that both he and divemaster Tucker did not have valid tour guide licenses.

In late December last year, CDNN reported that the same dive boat capsized in rough seas near South Water Caye with 10 divers onboard.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/12/05 04:10 PM

12 November 2005
Belize operator banned over fatality

A Belizean dive centre owner and a dive guide have been banned for life from running dive operations in the country, following the death of a diver who tried to swim to shore after boat engine failure in rough weather.

Vance Cabral, owner of Advance Diving in Placencia, and dive guide Mark Tucker have been banned by Belize's Tour Operators Licensing Board.

American Abigail Brinkman, 28, died after being taken out with three others aboard the centre's boat Advanced One to a dive site, Gladden Spit, on Saturday 22 October. After the dive, the boat started to drift out to sea when it suffered engine failure.

Against Tucker's advice to stay with the boat, the divers elected to attempt swimming to the nearest land, the island South Silk Caye, some 3.5 miles away. The boat moved helplessly away, leaving Tucker to endure 20 hours without water before being able to swim to another island as the boat drifted close to it.

Cabral, who had been dropped off with some snorkellers at South Silk Caye, could see Advanced One drifting away without power. He swam four miles to an island with rangers able to call search and rescue services.

By nightfall neither the divers nor the dive boat had been located. Air and sea searches by the Belize Defence Force continued throughout Sunday, without success.

On Monday afternoon, Abigail Brinkman - reportedly the only diver not to have been wearing a full wetsuit - was found dead, floating at the surface.

The three other divers were located at around the same time, close together. Transferred to hospital in Belize City, a 50-year-old man was treated for hypothermia. Two women, of 34 and 38 years old, were reported to be in fair condition.

The survivors reported that the dive boat's radio had been inoperable, meaning that Tucker could not call for assistance. The Tour Operators Licensing Board established that Cabral and Tucker did not possess current operating licenses.

=============================================
investigation, Part 1
WTHR-TV

Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Belize, October, 2005 - They say there is no such thing as a bad sunrise because it brings the promise of a new day. A sunrise in Belize attracts thousands of tourists every year.

"We thought we found paradise," Roger Brinkman said as stood outside his Belize City hotel, "Just love the pace of life. Of course the diving is extraordinary."

Who could blame the Brinkman's. They went to Belize from Columbus to celebrate their daughter Abigail's 28th birthday three weeks earlier. What better place for a family that enjoys diving than the great Barrier Reef, the longest reef in the western hemisphere. It runs the entire length of this English speaking country, which is slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts.

Abby was attracted to Belize for another reason. The third year Indiana University medical student and former Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess selected the Central American nation for her internship.

"She had an interest in pediatrics," Andrew Tanenbaum observed. "You could see the smiles on everyone faces," referring to a picture he took as the diving group he was a part of headed out toward Silk Caye on October 23.

"I remember the boat stopping twice on the way out there."

Fortunately the engine restarted both times. Once at the Caye six snorkelers, including Tanenbaum, disembark. Then Captain Vance Cabral cautioned the divers about a small craft warning just before the boat Advance One pushes off for Gladden Spit.

"It didn't seem alarming at all", he remembered reflecting on the weather that day. "It was choppy. There was a steady breeze but in no way did it seem dangerous."

Experienced tour guides like KG say that doesn't change the fact that the boat should have never left the dock that day. "The ocean is like a devil," he said "It just brings you in." And the devil wasn't done yet.

John Bain, a native of Indianapolis, was one of the four divers who remained on the boat after the snorkelers were dropped off. "We only got a few hundred yards from where we dropped off the snorkelers and the motor died again." But now the captain, who easily restarted the engine twice before, was back at Silk Caye with the snorkelers. Along with Tanenbaum "there wasn't anything we could do at that point. Vance had a cell phone, but it was not charged and there was no phone on the boat either."

The divers in the boat persuaded the dive master to cast the anchor. Fifty-year-old John Bain; a Carmel High, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and IU Law School graduate; remembers what happened next. "The metal chain was so rusted it just snapped. So the anchor was gone. At that point we really were adrift."

Another diver in the boat; Nancy Masters from Portland, Oregon; remembers Bain asking if the radio worked. It did not.

From Silk Caye the snorkelers watched as the boat then disappeared from view and they began to question the captain. "Someone had asked about a radio," Tanenbaum said. "Even he knew at that point that the radio did not work. Even he made the comment there is no flare on the boat either."

That is when Masters remembers the dive master weighed in back on the boat, telling the four divers, "There is nothing but water between where we are at and Jamaica and that is where we are headed."

After hearing that the four divers talked among themselves they made a decision that will be debated for years to come. They decided to jump out of the boat and into the Caribbean Sea in an attempt to swim for Silk Caye. Later reports in local Palencia papers said the dive master tried to talk the four divers out of jumping, but Abby Brinkman's father disputes that. "To a survivor that is not what happened. That never occurred."

Upon reflection, Bain said none of the divers realized how strong the current was.

Once in the water, Masters remembered it this way, "John is in the water. Abby is in the water and I immediately said to John, 'This is much worse than it looked from the boat.' John suggested we get back in the boat, but we couldn't get back in the boat because we didn't know where Abby was."

The four have now jumped into a world they cannot control 20 miles from shore in stormy seas where all they have is one another.

© 2005 MSNBC.com

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9975553/
Posted By: GailM

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/12/05 07:09 PM

There was another incident last week very similar to this one with three persons out on a fishing excursion from Long Caye, in Lighthouse Reef Atoll. They ran out of gas (the folks thought they had a full tank) and they stayed adrift at sea for two days. They did remain in the boat and they were rescued.
Posted By: GRAFFICE

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/13/05 06:46 PM

NO RADIO? NO BACK UP PLAN. I'M SURE THE TOUR OPERATORS WILL BE BANNED FOR LIFE-WAIT I'M WRONG THE TOURIST ACTUALLY LISTENED AND SURVIVED confused
Posted By: Abbysfriend

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/16/05 12:17 AM

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Abby may have jumped but so did everyone else! Including the divemaster who "advised against jumping". He spent 8 hours himself in the water.
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/16/05 01:20 AM

Sorry about the loss of Abby, she was so young, and the whole thing was inexcusable.

I hope alot more gets done to all involved than banning them for life.
Posted By: Abbysfriend

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/16/05 01:30 AM

Thank you for your message. This is so aweful. There are so many of us so sad about this up here in Indiana. Abby was so beautiful, selfless, and just a wonderful person to be around. She will be greatly missed. Her family, friends, and peers will miss her forever. It was a blessing to know her. Her smile, loyalty, and humor were just a couple of countless wonderful qualities of hers. She dedicated herself to doing things for others.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/16/05 01:41 AM

[Linked Image]

Abigail "Abby" Drake Brinkman, 28, of Columbus, a former Madison resident, died Monday, Oct. 24, 2005, while on a scuba diving trip near Placencia, Belize, in Central America.

She was born Oct. 7, 1977, in Madison, the daughter of Roger and Janet Brinkman. She moved to Columbus with her parents in 1988. She was a fourth-year student at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and had planned to pursue a residency in pediatrics upon graduation in May 2006.

She was a cum laude graduate of Hanover College, where she was selected a Horner Scholar. At the time of her death she was on her second trip to Belize, where she was providing primary care to the underserved population of southern Belize. She played the violin, piano and flute; ran the Indianapolis Mini Marathon many times and was a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, Indianapolis Pacers and the Chicago Cubs.

Surviving are her parents, of Columbus; one brother, Jacob Brinkman; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Louis and Hazel Brinkman, and John and Thelma Favinger; and one uncle.

A memorial service was held at 2 p.m. Tuesday Nov. 1 at the First Presbyterian Church in Columbus.


Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to the First Presbyterian Church Foundation in Columbus, the music programs at Columbus East High School or the Abigail Brinkman Scholarship at Hanover College.
Posted By: GRAFFICE

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/17/05 01:50 AM

MY CONDOLENCES TO ABBY'S FAMILY,FRIENDS AND PEERS. I HOPE TAHT SHE WILL REST IN PEACE AND THAT THEY WILL FIND A WAY TO CARRY HER SPIRIT FORWARD. MY INTENT IN THIS ENTIRE MATTER HAS NEVER BEEN TO DISCREDIT THE TRAGEDY BUT RATHER TO ASK IF LEAVING THE VESSEL COMPOUNDED THE PROBLEMS? YES THE TOUR OPERATOR(WITHOUT A LICENSE)LEFT THE BOAT TO SWIM FOR LAND IT WAS WELL AFTER THE DIVERS DECIDED THEY HAD A BETTER CHANCE TRYING ON THEIR OWN. I AM A FRIEND OF VANCE AND FEEL THAT HE HAS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE . IF THE COURTS MAKE IT WORSE THAN "BANNING FOR LIFE" AS DBD SUGGEST THEN MAYBE I HAVE MISSED SOMETHING.I KMOW ONE OF THE DIVERS IS A LAWYER AND WONDER WHERE HE WILL FIND SATISFACTION. THIS IS NOT THE LAST TRAGEDY THAT WILL OCCUR IN BELIZE AND I PROMISE ALL THAT READ I WILL BE LOOKING FOR THE SAME TYPE PUNISHMENT TO BE INFLICTED ON ANYTHING THAT RESEMBLES THIS. GOD BLESS ABBY AND VANCE. I'M VERY AFRAID THAT I WILL MISS BOTH OF YOU MORE THAN THIS POST WILL GIVE

OUT OF THE BOX DG confused
Posted By: Marty

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/18/05 09:28 PM

Wild wild reef

Karla Heusner

November 6, 2005



She smiled at me from the screen, a striking
blonde, all American Beauty, sitting on the
sand under a coconut tree, an older man and
woman next to her with bits and pieces of her
own face, her smile, her eyes, her hair; a
younger version of herself, but male, on the
far end. Her parents and her brother. They had
come to visit this promising young woman, a
medical student from Indiana, while she was
here working at a southern clinic.

I did not know anything about her until the day
I went to work and learned four scuba divers
were missing. Even then, we were told initially
it was four men. It was not until I was asked
to respond to an email from her brother, that I
found who she was. Still I had no name to work
with, for although his language was calm, in
his fear and urgency, compounded by being
thousands of miles away with no word, he forgot
to include her name in the correspondence. He
was writing as one soul searching for another,
calling out across the darkness of the digital
sea, hoping, just hoping someone would hear him
and somehow she would be the one to type back a
message. Instead, it was me.

His family's hopes, and mine, were raised when
the divers were sighted in the water, on the
last BDF flyover of the day, just moments
before they would have returned to base,
reluctantly leaving the lost ones to spend
their third night in the salty, watery dark.

They had been found! Thank God. They were being
flown to a hospital. I went to sleep relieved
and pleased that this time, unlike so many
other times in this business, there was a happy
ending. That they all would go home to their
loving families, shaken and scared, but whole.
The Belizean authorities and the talk shows,
would deal with the dive operator later.

I cannot imagine their grief when, in the midst
of the euphoria at the rescue, they were told
"We are sorry, but Abby did not make it." Their
anguish was astronomical compared to my stunned
reaction when I read the words of the email
they somehow managed to find the strength to
send me the next morning.

And then, the true revelation of what kind of
people these people are, came in the next line:
"We can only pray for the recovery of the
others." As they were cast adrift and cut off
forever, irretrievably, from their own precious
darling, they sent prayers for her companions.

Buoyed by these thoughts I am sure, but
grieving too, the others did recover physically
enough to be discharged from the hospital and
leave Belize. Abby was discharged from the
morgue; she too flew home.

There will be arguments that because the four
of them left the boat of their own free will
when it was experiencing engine trouble, that
perhaps the owner and operator is not to blame.
But I suspect that if he'd had a radio, a
better anchor, even a charged cell phone to try
and get help, they would have not lost
confidence in their captain and tried to swim
to the caye still in sight, especially after he
informed them "Next stop Jamaica." .

I suspect many of us who consider ourselves
strong swimmers might have made the same
decision, especially after the frustration of
seeing such incompetence and resignation to
"fate." They might have made it too, if the sea
had not been so rough due to hurricane Wilma's
proximity , and the urging by the Port
Authority to stay in safe harbor. If the dive
shop cannot be prosecuted, perhaps the Port
should look into legislation making it not just
foolhardy, but an offense to take passengers
out when such warnings are up. If a captain
wants to risk his own life, that is one thing,
but to jeopardize others and the industry.

Many of us, particularly those in the tourism
industry are probably gratified to see the
shop's license revoked and the recommendation
of a lifetime ban for the two men who ran the
trip. We all know that while it will not bring
Abigail Brinkman back, at least these two
people will not be able to take anyone out
again, without serious reprisals.

But at the same time, those who feel there is
no thrill without risk--whether operator or
visitor--need to be reigned in. Just because
someone in a group of travelers thinks weather
warnings or local rules and regulations are not
meant for him and not about to ruin his holiday
this does not mean the local vendor should be
accommodating. No matter how much the tourist
is willing to pay. For as we have seen, the
costs to someone in that group may be far more
than anyone bargained for. The ultimate
responsibility must lie with those who own the
business.

The sloppy maintenance, the cavalier style, and
the "we jus di hustle" attitude extends beyond
the tourism industry. Belizeans all over this
country, who ride some of our buses, some of
our water taxis, and take some of our tours,
are seen as nothing more than sources of
income. Not people at all. We are just paying
passengers to the unscrupulous. Again, the tone
is set by the owners, who, some might argue
take their cue from national leaders. But that
is another column, for another time..

How often do we Belizeans find ourselves in
risky situations because the people we trust to
get us from one place to another do not take
care of their equipment, drive too fast and
recklessly or do not have enough safety gear or
communication equipment?

Life is cheap in Belize, way too cheap. We must
make it far, far more costly to play with
people's lives. All our lives. I am sorry I
never met Abby. I understand she loved Belize.
Perhaps she loved it enough to consider coming
back to practice medicine here. But we will
never know how many lives she might have
touched. All we know she lost hers somewhere
between Silk Caye and Glovers Reef. And she
won't be coming back . That is unacceptable. Or
it should be...
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/25/05 09:06 PM

"That is when Masters remembers the dive master weighed in back on the boat, telling the four divers, "There is nothing but water between where we are at and Jamaica and that is where we are headed."

After hearing that the four divers talked among themselves they made a decision that will be debated for years to come. They decided to jump out of the boat and into the Caribbean Sea in an attempt to swim for Silk Caye."

What shoddy journalism. Only one person convinced the other three to jump out of the boat. That person will have to live with it.

It was not a football huddle.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9975553/from/RL.1/

Masters first interview said the tour guide was responible for them being in the water. Maybe thats where the shoddy journalism came from.

""Nancy Masters
”He did not advise us not to go and he does have more information about that than we do, but it just makes me extremely disappointed that he’s now lying about it, especially in the light of the fact that somebody died.”""

Who is perpetuating lies ?

I have looked everywhere for part 2 . No such luck.
Posted By: lacysbeach

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/29/05 11:03 AM

Marty, That is the most beautiful thing I ever read, your poem, to help us all understand death and life..Abigale's was a life cut short and unexpected. I am very sorry for her family and friends experiencing this great loss. She will be missed!!
Posted By: Kristykins

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 11/30/05 03:08 PM

Horribly, horrbily trajic story.

There really arn't words. Such an unnessesary death. My heart goes out to everyone involved.
Posted By: lacysbeach

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 12/06/05 10:19 AM

My head leaks!!
Posted By: lacysbeach

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 12/06/05 10:47 AM

It's such a shame that life is too cheap in Belize!!
Posted By: GRAFFICE

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 12/09/05 12:23 AM

lac- I think you need to see some more of the people and the off the beaten track locales before you can justify that comment. Go to a small village and see the love of life and family and friends of the people that live this life we only visit and then tell me life is CHEAP.
Posted By: lacysbeach

Re: Four tourists missing at sea - 12/13/05 10:12 AM

Graffice,
I can't begin to explain all of my feelings, I had my husbands best friend just had a heart attack and died yesterday...HE was so healthy,until then it seemed!!There
were not things that would have said he was sick!! He just dropped DEAD!! I'm sorry, but this is so true.. I would never believe it either..LOVE your friends, they are here for you!!TODAY!! Love THEM NOW!!
PS. By the way, I have been around Belize & Costa Rica & Mexico& Haiiti,& further South and I do love & have the feelings for these people!!
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