Boat collision in San Pedro claims one life

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 44            November 19, 2009

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A boat accident on Sunday night off San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye claimed the life of a father of two, left at least two injured and several people shaken. The tragedy claimed the life of 33-year-old Cesar Adolfo Scott, a front desk clerk, recently employed at Sueno del Mar Resort on North Ambergris Caye.     

    Just before 7:00 p.m. on Sunday night, police were called to an area near White Sands Cove, situated some two to three miles north of San Pedro Town, to the scene of a boating accident. When police arrived, they were informed that two vessels had collided and as a result one person was killed and several people had been injured. According to lead investigator attached to the San Pedro Police Formation, Sergeant Paulino Reyes, the two boats involved were Tio John belonging to Coastal Xpress Water Taxi and Right Now owned by Sueño del Mar Resort.    

    Initial investigations revealed that the vessel belonging to Coastal Xpress and captained at the time by Luis Alberto Paz was heading north with six passengers and an assistant boat captain. According to Sergeant Reyes, Paz reported that while on the route, he suddenly noticed a boat in front of him. He further alleged to police that he turned to his right to avoid the collision but the other vessels, belonging to Sueno del Mar, also turned right and that is when the collision occurred. The vessel belonging to Sueño del Mar was captained by 42-year-old Antonio Tepaz, and his co-worker Scott was a passenger. As a result of the collision, Scott received severe head and body injuries and reportedly died upon impact. Tepaz on the other hand received internal injuries, a broken ankle, and injuries to his head and was airlifted to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for further medical treatment. The only injured person onboard the Coastal Xpress boat was 43 year old Lynn Tonny, an American National who was given medical treatment and then released.    

    According to Sergeant Reyes, while blood samples were taken from both captains to ascertain if alcohol was a cause, their investigations are pointing to two main things, speeding and lights. According to General Manager of Coastal Xpress, Darrell Williams, based on the account given by Paz, “he (Paz) did not see the other boat and it appeared to have no running lights on the other vessel (Sueño del Mar vessel).” Williams flatly denied allegations that his boat was speeding because eye witnesses stated that Paz had just of-loaded a passenger on a dock. “It simply could not have been speeding because our boat was pulling off a dock so at that point it could not have been speeding. I think it’s just the fact that it appears that the Sueño del Mar Boat did not have a running light.” While the General Manager of Sueño del Mar, Kevin Myers, would not go into details of the investigation, he denied allegations that state that his boat had no lights and explained that his boat has the proper equipment to operate at sea. Both officials from the Belize Port Authority and the Police Department conducted an inspection on the vessels on Monday morning.    

    In speaking to The San Pedro Sun, some of the passengers onboard Coastal Xpress, stated that they were inside the cabin of the boat and did not see the other approaching vessel because they were in an enclosed area. The passengers stated that they knew something went wrong when they heard a loud and terrible bang and were thrown all over the inner part of the boat. Both Myers and Williams will accept responsibility for the incident pending the outcome of a proper investigation.    

    Mayor of San Pedro Town, Her Worship Elsa Paz stated that the collision could have been avoided given the circumstances of the incident. “We have been saying to the Port Authority that several vessels have been operating without the proper lighting equipments,” stated Mayor Paz. “It is unfortunate that someone has to die before authorities react,” added the Mayor.    

    Both San Pedro Police and the Belize Port Authority are investigating the incident. No one has been arrested for the incident and Scott’s body was transported to the KHMH for a post mortem examination. During the night of the tragic accident, a cell phone belonging to Cesar Adolfo Scott went missing. The only way to locate the mother of Cesar is through a contact number that was on the phone. Myers is asking  anyone who knows the whereabouts of the phone to please contact the office at Sueño del Mar as soon as possible.
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