Tragic Accident Claims Life of Father in Belize Defence Force Airwing Mishap

Tragic Accident Claims Life of Father in Belize Defence Force Airwing Mishap

A father of two from the Orange District lost his life today in a freak accident at the Belize Defence Force’s Airwing in Ladyville.  It was around 9:45 this morning when 31-year-old, Wilmer Coye and 30-year-old, Kevin Ku fell several feet from the roof they were repairing.  Love News understands that the men were in a suspended crane basket when a chain linking the basket to the machinery, came undone.  Both men subsequently fell with Coye sustaining fatal injuries as he was hit in the head by a metal pulley, leaving him partially decapitated. Major Francis Usher, Acting Commanding Officer of BDF’s Airwing and Special Boat Unit, noted the men were workers of a private contractor hired to do repairs on the roof of the hangar.  Usher noted that the incident happened within the blink of an eye. 

Major Francis Usher, Acting Commanding Officer, BDF Air Wing and Special Boat Unit: We were just here under the hangar and we heard a bang. We ran outside here because it sounded that the bang was close. That’s where we saw that the basket the trolley that the civilian contractors were using to repair the hangar had dislodged. It had separated from the crane. Looks like the wire had burst and the basket hit the ground and one individual died looks like on impact and another was injured, luckily he wasn’t injured too badly. So preliminarily we haven’t heard much from the contractors as yet. The person who received the contract immediately responded when he got the call what had happened but we did our part in calling the police officers so that they could do their investigation and all of the contractors were taken to the Ladyville police station to give their statements and we haven’t heard back from them since.”

Reporter:  And in terms of this accident how would you best sum it up? Would you say it was unfortunately resulted in this man’s death ?

Major Francis Usher, Acting Commanding Officer, BDF Air Wing and Special Boat Unit: “Right, I wouldn’t want to speculate what happened other than to say it was unfortunate. One person lost their life and that’s never a good thing. Whenever there are deaths, there are tragedies, it’s never a good thing. We’re thankful that they both didn’t lose their lives. But I just wanted to reiterate, you know, here at the BDF Air Wing and Special Boat Unit we take safety seriously. These were civilian contractors working on a contract that they received to fix the hanger and so it was out of our control. We really didn’t have anything to do with it other than to help out where necessary and when the incident had occurred we did what we could to help and get the police on the scene.”

While Coye, unfortunately, died on the spot, his colleague did not sustain major injuries. Major Usher spoke about his condition and called for greater occupational safety in the workforce. 

Major Francis Usher, Acting Commanding Officer, BDF Air Wing and Special Boat Unit:  As soon as the incident happened and we saw them, the man was walking. He was clearly shaken up, as anyone would be if they went through that, but he was walking, he was conscious, and when BERT arrived on the scene and checked him out they determined that the injuries were not life threatening. The individual, like I said, was walking he went to the police station, he gave a statement, and then he was thereafter taken to the KHMH.”

Reporter: Will there be more oversight in terms of when work is being done here? 

Major Francis Usher, Acting Commanding Officer, BDF Air Wing and Special Boat Unit: “Well we provide oversight to ensure that our daily operations and the safety of our men and women here at the air wing and special boat unit are never compromised. There have been certain instances and I must say the contractors were good about following the guidelines that we set but ultimately once we set our guidelines where they for example can or can’t smoke, can or can’t wear a hat, we do have no hat zones here on the base, they follow our guidelines but as far as when they are on their equipment we can’t put restrictions in place on what they need to wear when they are on their equipment. And they were using a piece of equipment that does belong to them and so we cannot determine what they need to use. That has to come from the boss of the contractors. Our hearts and sympathies go out to the family of the gentleman that lost his life and I hope that we take occupational safety more seriously moving forward. We do so here at the air wing and the special boat unit but we implore everyone else to do the same.”

Our northern correspondent, Jorge Leon, spoke with the mother of Wilmer Coyi who died in the incident.  According to the mom, Coyi had reported to work at Shipyard and that they were deployed to Ladyville to work.

Fanny Coye, Mother: “I am known as Fanny here in August Pine Ridge. I am Wilmer’s mother. I was told this morning of his death. We don’t know how or anything. He got a job in Shipyard. From Shipyard they take them to Ladyville to work. He goes every day. Sometimes he gets home around 11 to 12 at night. Well, I don’t know anything. I did not know anything but they called my mom and sister-in-law first. It was first we thought that it was his older brother. We went to investigate and it wasn’t him but his little brother. We then informed the Aleman and he said yes, that he was on his way to see him. Up to now we have not talked to the Aleman. We don’t know what happened, only for my little brother who was around there. I don’t know how he did it but they took him to Belize because it’s two of them but one is still in Orange Walk. Nothing horrible has happened to him, only the other one. He has a daughter, and his woman lives here. He was a jovial person. You’d never see him angry. We are asking around to find out information if it was him and yes, we do need financial assistance for food since he was the only one.”

Coye, a resident of August Pine Ridge, leaves behind two daughters.

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