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Oct 31, 2005

Tour guides banned forever in death of U.S. diver

Story PictureA Placencia tour operation, Advanced Diving, has lost its license following the death of a SCUBA diver and three day ordeal at sea for three other divers who survived. According to the Belize Tourism Board, the Tour Operating Licensing Committee met last Friday and not only voted to shut down Advanced Diving, it also recommended that guides Vance Cabral and Mark Tucker be banned from guiding for the rest of their lives. It was a unanimous decision based on information supplied by the Police Department and the fact that this is the second incident involving Advanced Diving within the last ten months. A summons has also been issued for both guides since they were operating without licenses after being placed on probation for the first mishap in January. In addition, Advanced Diving is facing penalties for hiring unlicensed operators. When asked if it is likely any serious criminal charges such as manslaughter by negligence will be brought against the pair, Anthony Mahler of the B.T.B. says the Police Department indicated this would be difficult since the surviving divers have admitted that they left the boat of their own volition in an attempt to swim to Silk Caye. However, he indicated that the family of the diver who did not make it, Abigail Brinkman, does have the option to pursue the case as a civil matter, as do the other divers: Nancy Masters, John Bain, and Yutaka Maeda, who incurred substantial medical expenses during their recovery from dehydration, salt water intake, and severe sunburn. Abigail Brinkman is seen here in a photo taken when her family visited her here in Belize just two weeks ago. A memorial service will be held for her tomorrow in Indiana. Brinkman was in Belize as part of her medical school rotation in which she had been posted at a clinic in Punta Gorda three weeks before her death.

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