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Vessel Crashes on Reef Near Ambergris Caye

Several local agencies have been called in to deal with a situation where a 39-foot trawler ran into the coral reef near Ambergris Caye.  One of the agencies called in was the Belize Coast Guard.  Love News spoke with the Vice Commander of the BCG, Elton Bennett for information on the incident.

ELTON BENNETT:  “Sometime last night around 7:40 we received information from the Belize Port Authority that a vessel had run aground in front of San Pedro. We deployed our vessel and crews from San Pedro along with the Belize Coast Guard went to the scene and discovered a vessel. It is a 39 foot cabin cruiser that had run aground on the reef. The vessel was transiting from Rio Dulce Guatemala and was heading up to the United States. We assisted the captain to go ashore. This morning we commenced our investigation we had very poor visibility last night and so all we could have done last night was look at the safety aspects of the marine casualty. This morning we commenced our investigation along with the Belize Port Authority and the Department of the Environment to ascertain the circumstances that resulted in the vessel being grounded. We commenced the questioning of the captain and he reported that last night he didn’t have the propulsion system required to propel his vessel and he was taking on water he therefore decided to alter course and headed toward San Pedro which was the nearest municipality that he could have moved his vessel toward and he ran aground just in front of San Pedro and that is where he made his distress call. Our investigation is still ongoing, the vessel is still on the reef but we have plans to remove that vessel in order to conduct a more in detail inspection of the damage done to the reef. Once that is completed then we go to the next step which is looking at the prosecution part of it.”

Reporter: So in the meantime Mr.Day remains in belize until the investigation is through ?

ELTON BENNETT:“That is right, he is out in San Pedro and he is available for questioning by the Marine Casualties Team. He reported that he was just moving the vessel from Guatemala to the United States, he is not the owner, the owner is  US national by the name of Mr.Jerry Howard. He was just transporting the vessel from point A to point B. He was on innocent passage moving through the territorial seas of Belize heading north.”

The incident occurred at about seven o’clock last night involving a 39-foot vessel named Connie Sue.  Love News understands that the Belize Port Authority and the Department of the Environment were also alerted.  Aboard the vessel was the 66-year-old, Roger Day who notified officials that he was manning the American-registered vessel from Guatemala enroute to the United States.  In a twist to the entire ordeal, four men were caught robbing the vessel of items on board including its engine.  The men are currently in the custody of San Pedro Police pending charges.