Essequibo River mishap: Bodies of 2 missing persons found

…boat uncertified, not permitted to operate – Edghill

The bodies of two persons who were missing after a boat capsized in the Essequibo River on Saturday have been found.
Dead are Alvin Leitch of Charlestown, Georgetown, and Randy Adams of Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).

Dead: Randy Adams

The two died after the boat in which they were travelling hit the Rattlesnake Rock in the vicinity of Calf Island, Essequibo River. Rattlesnake Rock is approximately 2.7 kilometres from the Bartica Stelling and 300 metres east of Calf Island.
Commander for Region Seven Police Division, Senior Superintendent Dion Moore confirmed that both bodies were found on Monday morning. They are at the Bartica Hospital’s Mortuary awaiting a post-mortem examination, scheduled for today.
The mishap occurred sometime between 18:45h and 19:00h on Saturday. At the time of the incident, the vessel was captained by 34-year-old Jermain Blackman of Two Miles Potaro Road, Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), along with his bowman, 18-year-old Lamuel Allen of Four Miles, Bartica. It was also reported that apart from the two boat operators, there were 10 passengers in the vessel including popular entertainer, Darrel Romeo called “DJ Magnum”.
Meanwhile, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill in a statement on Monday expressed sympathy to the family, friends and loved ones of the two men.
He said that at about 19:00h on Saturday, officers from the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) received reports about a boat mishap in the Essequibo River.

Dead: Alvin Leitch

“We are informed, by our investigation that the small open boat “CARLOS”, under the command of one Jermain Blackman ran into the Rattlesnake Rock in the Essequibo River. In addition to the captain there were eleven (11) other persons on board, including the bowman. Most of the persons on board were reportedly not wearing lifejackets, even though it is reported that there were several on board.”
The Minister added that the boat suffered extensive damage and while sinking, some of the occupants were thrown into the water while others exited the ill-fated boat and tried swimming to the shore.
However, the Minister noted that while the captain was in possession of a valid licence to operate such a boat, the boat was uncertified and not permitted to operate on the Parika–Bartica passenger service.
“Further, boats on this service are not allowed to operate during the hours of darkness. MARAD’s record reflects that the last authorised departure was by the “LADY ZENIELL” – a boat licensed to operate within the system, at 17:10 hrs. The sunset at Bartica was approximately 18:00 hours,” the Minister said.
He added that MARAD has designated 17:00h as the latest departure time for boats to depart Parika or Bartica on this service.
The boat which Blackman captained departed from the Parika Stelling at about 17:30h after MARAD’s monitors would have concluded work for the day.
The issue of unlicensed “outside” boats, the Minister noted, transporting passengers on waterways is actively engaging the attention of the Administration.
“We continue to urge the travelling public not to board water taxis/speedboats operating outside of the regulated system and hours of operation. MARAD, as the regulatory authority, also wishes to reiterate that all persons using boats/water taxis must properly and securely wear lifejackets.”
River Navigation Officer, Captain Romain Seurattan is spearheading the investigation and is working along with the Guyana Police Force – Division Seven.
“Safety on our roads, waterways, and in our airspace must be adhered to. Service providers must follow the rules and be in full compliance at all times,” the Minister warned.