Tragedy at sea

Family reunion ruined by death

An early afternoon tragedy at sea has ruined a family reunion in “paradise” for a British family.

All police would say so far is that the deceased is a 29-year-old British male, who arrived on the island just Wednesday and died following a jet ski collision off Welches Beach in Christ Church around 2:30 p.m Thursday.

However, Barbados TODAY has learnt that the collision was with a jet ski operated by another family member.

Investigating officers, including police Public Relations Officer Inspector Roland Cobbler, were gathered outside the Elcourt Clinic Thursday afternoon.

Up to late Thursday evening, police were still withholding the name of the victim. Relatives were equally tightlipped on the incident, since the victim’s mother was reportedly en route to Barbados, unaware of all that had gone wrong. She will therefore be greeted on arrival with the tragic news.

Thursday evening a team from Barbados TODAY was in time to see police and tourism officials visiting with the family at Elcourt Clinic in Maxwell, Christ Church where the victim was pronounced dead on arrival.

It was around 6 p.m. when two distraught looking family members exited the clinic in the company of the general manager of their south coast hotel. One relative, believed to the cousin of the victim, was still shirtless and wearing beach shorts. The other, an older woman who wore locks, appeared to be in shock. It therefore fell to General Manager of the Butterfly Hotel to communicate to Barbados TODAY the family’s request for privacy at this difficult time.

With the incident still under police investigation, the owner of the jet skis involved in today’s incident was also present at the Elcourt Clinic this evening. However, businessman Ricardo Clarke was also tightlipped about the incident.

Ricardo Clarke (second from right), owner of the jet skis which were involved in Thursday’s tragedy, in conversation with some of the officers.

Nonetheless, Thursday’s tragedy has re-opened old wounds surrounding the operations of the popular water craft, with one local boat operator voicing strong concern about the unregulated use of jet skis by visitors.

Without commenting on Thursday’s fatal accident, he bitterly complained that “these people come to the island and have no licence to operate any jet skis and almost hit boats daily”.

The operator, who did not want to be identified, argued that the same way the owners and operators were required to have a licence to operate, the same should apply to tourists.

“You need to have a licence,” he stressed, warning that the situation was “almost like that which we currently have on the roads with the motorcycles, where you see a group of people with jet skis go out and do foolishness”.

“We need more regulation of jet skis,” he insisted.

Another boat owner told Barbados TODAY of a recent incident in which the operator of his dingy had to “jump off the boat to save his own life” after his engine was knocked off by a jet ski operator.

He also recalled another incident in which a guest at a local hotel was hit by a jet ski, but the operator did not stop. He is therefore supporting calls for stricter enforcement of jet skis.

He said he was aware of instances in which tourists came on the beach drunk and picked up jet skis, putting everyone’s lives at risk.

As part of the proposed crackdown the boat owner suggests that there should be a mechanism to ensure that operators are sober and that tourists take out liability insurance before taking up these vessels.

“If you want to operate one, you need to be responsible,” he said, adding that the flip side to this was the possibility that more persons could be killed.

11 Responses to Tragedy at sea

  1. Cynthia Blackman
    Cynthia Blackman December 22, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Sad.

    Reply
  2. Cherylann Bourne-Hayes
    Cherylann Bourne-Hayes December 22, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Shame shame, and yet some of the local jet ski operators are out there doing a bunch of crap and riding them recklessly themselves. Seen it myself.

    Reply
  3. Nathalie Aw
    Nathalie Aw December 22, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Sad for the family. The problem of drunk tourists using powerful jet skis IS an issue and should be dealt with. As it says in the piece, the man was not commenting on this particular accident he was speaking generally about what he has seen.

    Reply
  4. Samantha Sealy
    Samantha Sealy December 23, 2016 at 12:30 am

    What I don’t understand is why the operators/owners were allowed to work when there is currently a small craft warning in effect. Isn’t that negligence? Are there no regulations for these machines?

    Reply
  5. Divine Duchess
    Divine Duchess December 23, 2016 at 12:42 am

    I cant imagine being on my way to enjoy a holiday with family on vac, to be greeted with this tragic news Lord have mercy on that poor woman when she hears of the death of her son smh. I pray for that family but i put this mother before u, comfort her Lord, let her be able to handle this to some degree.This is so heartbreaking making water come from my eyes cuz this lady dont even know whats in store for her….uugghhh!!! #rip sir

    Reply
  6. James Franks December 23, 2016 at 3:33 am

    Time for some proper licensing to regulate this extremely dangerous activity.

    Reply
  7. Tony Webster December 23, 2016 at 5:23 am

    The “freedom” to own and operate a Jet Ski business, is very similar to being allowed to drive a car/vehicle. Both are hugely useful; provide a livlihood; are great fun to use. However, as my dad told me the very day I received my driver’s livense, using the words of a Judge who was sentencing a guy for accidenetal death of another road-user :” “Remember…a car is a lethal weapon”.

    The questions a-beging are:-
    1. How do the authorities satsfy themselves, when licensing Jet-Skis, of the competeence of the owner…or of the operator (who might be an (un-trained) employee, or a buddy “helping out”).

    2.When actually about to rent a jet-Ski, how much “training”, or “cautions”, might / should / must be given to the novice rider, before putting them in charge of a “lethal weapon”? I have personally seen, many times, a Jet-Ski being rented, and apart from putting-on the life-jacket, the machine was handed-over before you cud say “Fifteen Flying Dollars flying over the Flippin’ waves at Forty miles per-hour”!!

    Reply
  8. Guy Smiley December 23, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Not only tourists operate jet skis locals do as well. So then we should all get licenses.

    Reply
  9. Erna Small December 23, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Divine Duchess you have said it all……God bless and comfort them all – nobody knows how great the love of a Mother and her Child – it is immeasurable…….

    Reply
  10. Yvon Mellinger January 9, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Another lucky escape, a near miss hit yesterday Sunday the 8th of January (by a few inches according to the witnesses and Jet Ski operator) of a swimmer who was inside the buoys. Again by a drunken tourist, who had picked-up a jet ski just out of a beach bar and was running the watercraft with his back to the controls, and inside the protected area probably to impress his “drinking buddies”. I do not want to enter into the specifics as those instances are common, but would strongly certainly support the idea of more regulation. Today, Bajan and tourist families have been deprived of a large part of the swimming areas because of the proliferation of such crafts running at very high speeds in proximity to the beaches, a no wake – reduced speed area of a few hundred yards would certainly be a welcome measure together with more control on the users.

    Reply
  11. bronwen March 11, 2017 at 8:59 am

    drunken tourists are an issue with jet skis, but where I live on the west coast it is local jet ski operators who are the problem, going way too fast close to shore, looking one way and driving in another. I have almost been hit by one, about 15 feet from shore, and had to dive out of the way. I saw a jet ski operator land his jet ski at high speed onto the beach, in the metre-wide between a father and his 2-year-old son.
    Boats are also an issue. A friend swimming about 20 feet from shore had to dive underwater to avoid getting hit by a waterskier.
    There needs to be a rule about jet skis and other watercraft operating too close to shore.

    Reply

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