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Aug 3, 2015

Minor Drowns in Blue Creek Cave, Recovery Effort Underway

A recovery operation to retrieve the body of ten-year-old Jason Pau from the Ho’keb’ Ha Cave in Blue Creek Village remains open, following the disappearance of the minor on Friday evening in the Toledo District.  Pau was in the company of a group of American missionaries on a tour of the system when he was reported missing sometime around three-thirty p.m.  Despite a massive search and rescue effort to locate the lost child, all attempts since his disappearance have been fruitless.  Personnel from the police department, the national coast guard, as well as the Belize Defense Force, have been deployed to the area.  Notwithstanding the retrieval of Pau’s remains, the latest news coming out of the south is that a pungent odor was detected within the cave system earlier today and the recovery team has concentrated its efforts in the area where the stench was identified.  News Five spoke by phone with Superintendent Simeon Alvarez, Officer Commanding the Punta Gorda Police Formation.

 

On the Phone: Supt. Simeon Alvarez, O.C., Punta Gorda Police

“The police continue, along with the coastguard and the B.D.F., to do searches along with locals from the village of Blue Creek for the body of Jason Pau, ten-years-old.  Sometime today, around three p.m., the police had called us informing us that the local that was swimming, diving in the area smelled a stench coming from somewhere within the cave and as a result of that they were requesting three divers to go in the area.  So we are working on that presently and then tomorrow we will continue our search to see if probably we could recover the body of Jason Pau if he is dead.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Take us back to Friday when this incident transpired.”

 

On the Phone: Supt. Simeon Alvarez

“Well, this call came in sometime around seven p.m.  It came in around seven p.m. that after a tour of the Blue [Creek] cave by some U.S. citizens and some locals from the village of Forest Home which comprises of a total of thirty-five persons.  They went on a tour of this cave and they were being taken into the cave by a tour guide by the name of William Ack.  He took them for a tour and at the end of the tour which was sometime around five, they discovered that Jason Pau was missing and they immediately made searches in the immediate area but he was not located.  Therefore, as a result of that they then called for the police to intervene, you know.  Since then we have been there on a daily basis along with the B.D.F. and the coastguard to see if we could locate this youth, you know.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“There are concerns that have been raised with regards to the ratio of guests to the tour guide that was available for the tour.  Can you speak to us on that number whether or not that was adequate?”

 

On the Phone: Supt. Simeon Alvarez

“Any tour guide, they are trained that whenever they go to the caves the maximum they are responsible for are eight, nothing more than eight.  So definitely, the tour guide who had taken the team out there, a total of twenty-five or more, he has violated the Tour Guides Act.  So definitely that matter is being investigated and he will be dealt with also if the evidence comes forward.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Is there any reason to believe that the ten-year-old child was the victim of foul play per se or did this just happen to be a drowning?”

 

On the Phone: Supt. Simeon Alvarez

“Well there is a lot of allegation being made by some of the persons that went on that tour.  They said that he was pushed in the river.  They say that he jumped into the caves by himself.  So we are looking at all information that we are gathering so far.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“And finally sir, is there a reason given as to why this tour was conducted so late in the evening?”

 

On the Phone: Supt. Simeon Alvarez

“I think that they went there earlier than that.  They spent quite some hours there and it was around that time when they completed the tour that they discovered that the child was missing.”

 

Up to news time tonight Jason Pau, a resident of Cuxlin Ha Village, remains missing.

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