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Elderly man goes overboard, search for his body underway

The search continues for the body of 80-year-old Leobihildo Pablo Varela, a boat captain from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.  Varela was on a barge making its routine journey from San Pedro to the Port of Belize last night.  Somehow there was a mishap which ended up with the elderly man going overboard.  Love News spoke with CEO of the Port of Belize, Arturo Vasquez.

Arturo Vasquez – CEO, Port of Belize

“We got a call about 9:30 almost 10 pm where there was an incident again somewhat similar to the last time when a barge had run into the pier.  Fortunately this time there was no damage to the pier but unfortunately I understand that a passenger on the barge fell over board and he has up to what I am understanding, he has not been found.  What we saw when we go there really was that there was a barge lodged against the pier. I understand from the captain that it did not run into the pier and that it actually drifted into the pier so that was good news. What we had to do is that we had to get that barge removed because it was banging against the pier. So we ended up getting some tugs to pull it away and we finished that sometime this morning. We had our engineer come in early this morning to take a look at the pier.  We were satisfied that there was no damage to the pier like we had the last time there has just been minor concrete chipped away. The police were here and they did their interviews and I think they took statements from the captain of the tug and also some of the crew members that were on the barge at the time and he is claiming that when he came in there was a squall but it was raining last night and during that squall somehow it ended up rough. I was out there and it was extremely rough and they were losing control of the barge and they were heading towards the pier and he tried to reverse to pull it away, that is what I heard him telling the police but that wasn’t possible to do maybe it was too rough and it got pretty close to actually tipping over the tug so at that point they decided that they had to release the tug. They released it in a way where they were trying to go around to sort of bump it away and that’s when they had a collision between the tug and the barge because there is obvious damage on the tug that I saw and during that impact as I would imagine that is probably when Mr. Varela fell overboard.”

When we contacted the Belize Coast Guard this evening we were told the search continues for Varela’s body.