Man injured in Boat Accident

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 24            June 25, 2009

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The boat after the accident.

Mr. Armin Badillo. The general public is informed that a small fundraiser will be held in front of his home next to Belize Bank on Barrier Reef Drive. BBQ chicken and ribs will be on sale. Be sure to get some finger licking food and help a worthy cause.

A local resident is lucky to be alive and remains bedridden after he was injured in a boat accident on Thursday afternoon off Ambergris Caye. He has since been identified as 43 year old Armin Fermin Badillo, a Belizean boat captain of a Barrier Reef Drive address in San Pedro Town.

    The incident occurred at about 12:15 p.m. on June 18th some 1½ miles north of San Pedro Town between Badillo’s 23 foot Mexican skiff and a 29 foot vessel belonging to SEArious Adventures Tour Company. The boat at the time was captained by 33 year old Herman Ramirez.

    Badillo told police that he was traveling south from Playa Blanca towards San Pedro Town. Upon reaching an area near Journey’s End Resort it began to rain heavily causing poor visibility. At that time Badillo claims that he slowed down the speed of his 60 horsepower engine. According to Badillo a few minutes into the heavy rain he noticed a north bound vessel coming in his direction. At that time, Badillo says he drifted to his right, towards land to avoid being hit. Badillo went on to tell police that he realized the vessel continued to travel in the opposite direction and seemed to make a turn toward their left, in the same direction he was turning away from, seconds later he felt an impact. As a result of the impact, Badillo was thrown from his skiff and into the water rendering him unconscious. Unbeknownst to him he received injuries to his head and back.

    According to an official report from the San Pedro Police Department, Ramirez claimed that he was taking two tourists to Captain Morgan’s located north of San Pedro Town. It began raining and visibility became low when upon reaching an area near the Tres Cocos Channel the boat he was captaining collided into another vessel.

    According to the Belize Port Authority (BPA), the investigation is young and they are looking at the evidence to determine the angle of their investigation. The BPA however claimed that they have seen inconsistencies in the statement given by Ramirez and evidence collected. One of those key elements that they are looking at is the point of impact between both vessels. In addition, the BPA says that the SEArious Adventure Tour Company’s boat appears to have two names, both Serious 1 and Briana which is an offence and BPA claims that their prosecutor is looking at those factors and will determine the course of the investigation. BPA will be conducting an inquiry and plans to summon both captains as soon as Badillo is healthy enough to testify.

    As a result of his injuries, Badillo was rushed to Doctor Lerida Rodriguez Clinic and was later airlifted to the Universal Health Services where he received further treatment. In an interview with The San Pedro Sun, Badillo stated that since the day of the accident, he has not seen or heard from the owners of SEArious Adventures Tour Company nor the boat captain. “From the day I was taken to the clinic, my family hasn’t heard from them,” exclaimed a pained Badillo. “I would want them to take care of the damages caused to my boat and the hospital bill,” commented Badillo, adding “if they don’t want to, I am hopeful that I can depend on the community to assist me.” Badillo says that he is grateful that Ramirez rendered assistance the day of the incident and is thankful to God that he is alive but is concerned about the medical expenses he will have to incur.

    This is the second accident in less than three months involving one of SEArious Adventure’s boats and captain Herman Ramirez. According to Maskall Village Police, sometime between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on April 2nd, Ramirez reported a collision with another vessel some two miles east heading west to Bomba Village on the Northern River. At that time police claim that Ramirez, who was captaining a vessel with about ten tourists aboard, was heading to Lamanai when it is alleged that he collided with a skiff with two females and a male onboard. Ramirez again rendered assistance and transported the injured female to Bomba Village. The female was rushed to the Northern Regional Hospital by villagers in Bomba, after which Ramirez returned to the scene of the accident and assisted the other two people who were also on the damaged vessel. Although the matter was reported to Maskall Village Police, BPA says that they have not received a complaint. Because there was no complainant, no one has been charged at this time but the matter remains open.

    Because the accident in San Pedro is still under investigation, the Belize Port Authority says that both vessels should not be operating and must remain docked until the investigation is completed. Should any of the vessels be used during the course of the investigation, the BPA says that it is a violation of the law and they will deal with it accordingly. BPA claims that on Friday, June 19th while they were on the island investigating the accident, SEArious Adventure’s Briana was out at sea, hence they have issued a detention order to the San Pedro Police Department on that same day to ensure that the boat remains off sea.

    Since the day of the accident, The San Pedro Sun has made attempts to communicate with SEArious Adventures in order to get a statement. Numerous calls were placed, and messages were left, but no phone calls were returned. At press time, a final call was placed to SEArious Adventure’s office, where an employee stated that Sandy Leslie, part owner, was busy making arrangements to leave the country, and was “too busy” to talk to us. Furthermore, the employee stated that Leslie had said that the company was not prepared to release a statement at this time.
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