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Oct 27, 2005

Divemaster deflects blame for death

Story PictureThe survivors of a disaster at sea off the coast of southern Belize continue to recuperate from the traumatic experience. All three of the SCUBA divers have now been released from the hospital and are under private medical care at a local hotel. We understand tonight that as soon as they are well enough to tell their story, they will be sharing details of the tragedy with the public. For his part, owner/operator of Advance Diving in Placencia, Vance Cabral declined an on camera interview with News Five, informing us he has retained legal counsel. But for the record, Cabral maintains that the events of Saturday, October twenty-second was not a diving accident. According to Cabral, several snorkellers stayed with him on Silk Caye, while divemaster Henry “Bee Bee” Tucker took four SCUBA divers to a site near Gladden Spit. But halfway to the site, Cabral says the boat experienced engine problems. He insists that he could see the vessel clearly from the caye and that it was anchored. Why the boat later started to drift is still unclear tonight, but Cabral reiterates Tucker’s claims that he told the divers to wait in the boat until help came. Furthermore, Cabral is adamant that it was the decision of the four divers to get into the water dressed in their SCUBA gear and swim back to the caye. As we reported earlier this week, Tucker stayed on board, drifting for more than twenty hours until he neared Northeast Caye on the Glover’s Reef atoll. From there he jumped off and swam approximately three miles to the caye. Tonight police officials told News Five tonight that a full investigation has been launched into the incident.

G. Michael Reid, Police Press Officer
?The police have pretty much concluded their side, taking statements from everyone concerned. After this the Port Authority will have to decide what angle they are gonna take. If there is any criminal negligence on the part of the persons involved, then certainly the police will act upon that.?

Janelle Chanona
?Who will decide whether charges will be levied against anyone responsible, the police or Port Authority??

G. Michael Reid
?The police and Port Authority will get together on this one and the Port Authority will decide as far as infractions concerning the boat and any other areas of their concern. Certainly as far as negligence is concerned the Police Department then will make decision on that.?

?The Commissioner has assured all that every effort will be made to get to the bottom of this and if there is anyone that has been negligent, if any infraction has been committed, the police will pursue this to the full extent of the law.?

John Bain, Nancy Masters, Abigail Brinkman, and Yutaka Maeda were lost at sea for almost three days when their boat experienced engine problems. The foursome donned SCUBA gear and attempted to swim to the nearest caye, Silk Caye but never made it. While Bain, Masters, and Maeda survived the ordeal, twenty-eight year old Abigail Brinkman did not. According to a police press release, a post mortem has determined cause of death as immersion asphyxia…she drowned. The group were spotted by a B.D.F. Defender on Monday evening and later picked up by vessels in the area who were participating in an intensive search and rescue effort. On Friday, a tour operator’s licensing review board will meet to examine the case. Sources tell News Five that both Cabral and Tucker were operating with expired licenses when they were hired by the group of divers and snorkellers to take them out on Saturday. Cabral also has had at least two previous accidents involving divers and has had his license suspended before.

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