Tragic Accident Claims Life of Belize Coast Guard Seaman Kimane Garcia
A seaman of the Belize Coast Guard lies in the morgue tonight after falling victim to a freak accident this afternoon, while another is nursing injuries received. Kimane Garcia was heading home after being out at sea for twenty one days, but in a split second, circumstances changed, and Garcia went overboard. The news broke just before four o’clock this afternoon as Garcia was being treated at the San Pedro Polyclinic, and preparations were being made to transport him into Belize City. Garcia’s injuries, however, were severe, and he passed away. Late this evening, Commander of the Belize Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, confirmed the circumstances that led to the seaman’s death.
RADM Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “Very unfortunate situation of one of our members that went overboard the vessel moving from Bacalar Chico in northern Ambergris heading down toward San Pedro Town then they would have come into Belize City. They were being extracted after three weeks of operational duty. They were coming in a small vessel leaving Bacalar Chico and the initial report that we received so far is that the vessel hit something below the surface and caused the cockswain to lose control of the vessel. Two members went overboard, one of them we believe got cut by the propeller of the of the vessel and also received head injuries. We immediately dispatched one of our faster vessels from San Pedro to meet them halfway in order to get him into San Pedro Town. We did that, we handed him over to the emergency services in San Pedro with the hope of stabilizing him in order to bring him into Belize City. Unfortunately he was pronounced dead upon arrival in San Pedro. It’s a very unfortunate situation. We’ve never had a casualty of this nature in the Coast Guard and so it’s a very hard time for us.”
Renee Trujillo, News Director, Love News: How long has he been serving in the Coast Guard ?
RADM Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “He has been serving for quite a few years now. He’s a young sailor but he’s been in service for quite a few years. Because there’s a death involved the police will take charge. We have already started the process with San Pedro police who would be leading that investigation so the crew members even though they’re going through a hard time at this time they had a casualty we’re asking San Pedro police to commence their investigation and that investigation will be very broad. As a matter of fact we’re also asking the Belize Port Authority to get involved to do an independent investigation from a marine casualty perspective to see if there was anything relating to safety, seaworthiness of vessel or navigation error that could have resulted in the accident. So it’s a very broad investigation. Of course we’ll be doing an internal board of inquiry as well to look at a very detailed step by step activities that occurred.”
Renee Trujillo, News Director, Love News: What about the condition of the second man overboard ?RADM Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “At this time I know he’s stable. He received I think minor injuries and he’s along with the patrol crew in San Pedro.”
Garcia’s death was witnessed by several of his colleagues in the Belize Coast Guard. According to Rear Admiral Bennett, arrangements are already being made to have counseling available for those in the service.
RADM Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “We’re already making arrangements for counseling. The crew because someone lost their life they would have to go through that initial police report. As soon as that is completed they will be extracted and then will go through a process of counseling for the crew members but also for his unit which is very close to him. So we will take a deep look to see where counseling is required not only with the crew members but across the Coast Guard.”
Rear Admiral Bennett has since met with the seaman’s family in Double Head Cabbage, Belize District. Love News understands that Garcia had joined the Belize Coast Guard in 2018.