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Jul 30, 2004

Alcohol + apathy = death by drowning

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There was drama of another sort today, in the heart of Belize City. It involved two increasingly negative facts of life in the old capital: the first is a propensity toward drunkenness, the second a reluctance of citizens to ?get involved?. The result was a death that didn?t have to happen.

Austin Belisle, Watchman

?He was drinking, he was drinking, he was drunk because he is swimming from cross from cross, but the current too stiff so he went around the current, you understand me that?s all to it. And them guys went to help him but he already gone down the river.?

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Nick Ottley, believed to be in his fifties, was drinking to the back of the Travellers Bar situated along the Haulover Creek when patrons of the establishment said, he took off his boots and then jumped into the fast moving murky water. Although Ottley appeared to have consumed too much alcohol, it is reported that no one tried to stop him or get him out of the water. As Ottley approached the Belize City Swing bridge that?s when Austin Belisle, a watchman of the area, caught sight of him.

Austin Belisle

?All I saw that he was swimming from Travellers Bar going down the river, he end up between the barge and a fisherman boat from then he came out of there again and then he went down the stream and that was it.?

As a crowd of spectators gathered, witnesses say that Ottley tried to get the attention of a boat that was passing by him, but no one would stop. As Ottley got to the other side of the bridge he was struggling to keep his head above the water.

Daniel Price, Eyewitness

?He came to this side of the river and when he got about here his head was underwater and he was doing as if he was going to come up, he went by and we tried to yell for them to get him, they just kept going, they just did not know what was going on and his head just started to disappear so I just jumped in.?

Daniel Price, an American Cyclist on a tour from Texas to Panama just happens to be in the area when he saw Ottley in trouble and made the move to save him. Price was followed by an unidentified local diver and both started looking but the men?s heroic efforts were in vain.

Daniel Price

?Nothing hit him; he was drunk. He tried to swim from over there to come across the river and I think he was just drunk, disorientated and was unable to function. Nobody jumped in for him, everybody just standing, looking, wondering what was going on. By the time like anyone went after him, he was already underwater, his head was just disappearing.?

The police arrived on the scene and joined in the search. It was not until later that Ottley was found, but all attempts to save him failed. A wound on Ottely?s chest suggests that he did sustained an injury, but the cause or timing is unknown. Ottley?s body was taken to the City?s morgue where a post mortem will determine the cause of death.

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