A man from the Orange Walk District was killed in a boat accident on Boxing Day. The accident occurred off the coast of Caye Caulker, and our Correspondent Jorge Aldana has the details in the following report.
Jorge Aldana, San Pedro/ Caye Caulker Correspondent: The body of 30-year-old Oscar Cornel, originally of Trial Farm Village in the Orange Walk district was retrieved from the Caribbean Sea after he went missing following a boating accident. Authorities say that sometime around 7pm on Thursday December 26 Cornel, a councilor on the Trial Farm Village Council, was travelling along with his brother-in-law Mario Rosales onboard the “Sir Alex:, a vessel belonging to Nautilus Express Water Taxi. Approximately five miles south west of Caye Caulker Village the “Sir Alex” and a second vessel “Baby Giselle” also belonging to Nautilus Express Water Taxi from Ladyville Village captained at the time by Jermaine Williams collided into each other. Onboard the “Baby Giselle” were Williams and a Belizean as well as five tourists who were heading from Ambergris Caye to Belize City. Authorities say that Williams and his six passengers received minor injuries and were all treated and released but for Rosales and Cornel the collision caused damage to their vessel and upon impact they were both fling out of their vessel. As a result a search and rescue operation was launched with assistance from the Belize Coast Guard and other volunteers. During the operation sometime around 10pm authorities found Rosales on Cayo Rosado, a private island south of Cangrejo Caye. Rosales told authorities that following the impact he managed to swim until he arrived on the aforementioned caye a few hours later. As a result he was taken for medical attention and is currently under observation. The vessel which Rosales was captaining, the “Sir Alex”, was found some twelve miles southwest of Caye Caulker near Hick’s Caye but the missing Cornell was nowhere. An intensive search continued through Friday morning and shortly before 1pm authorities came across the lifeless body of a male floating in the sea some three miles of Cayo Rosado. The body was later identified as the missing Cornel and was seen with injuries to the right hand and head. His body has since been transported to the KHMH for a post mortem examination. Investigations into the circumstances that led to the collision and Lieutenant Roque Canul, the Operations Manager at the Belize Coast Guard shared some of those details.
Lt.Roque Canul, Operations Manager, Belize Coast Guard: “Since then we started operations as of last night where I deployed two search units to conduct searches in that area. Based on some pictures that I received it seems that speeding was a factor under poor visibility and even perhaps the lack of navigation lights. Now I cannot ascertain if there was a lack of navigation lights but indeed the speeding was a factor. Visibility is very poor these days because of the weather out there and with regards to the persons who were thrown overboard, none of them had life vests so hence the reason luckily one of the guys managed to swim but the other one was apparently injured during the collision and he went under when he fell overboard. I want to take this time to send my sincerest condolences to the family.”
Jorge Aldana, San Pedro/ Caye Caulker Correspondent: Cornel had just turned 30 on Monday December 22 and he was onboard one of the vessels that were to meet each other to do a transfer of passengers.