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Jul 12, 2016

Injured Coast Guard Officer Receives Assistance from Mexican Navy

With all the reports about the realities of a crime wave, there is an uplifting story that has the Diego family of Belize City smiling. Petty officer Kevin Diego was badly injured while on duty at the Coastguard outpost in Consejo, Corozal.  Diego almost lost his life in the unfortunate accident, but we can report tonight that his recovery has been remarkable. He is receiving treatment in Mexico through the kindness of the folks at the Mexican Embassy but right now he is at home on break and likely watching the story of his progress. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Once an active member of the Belize National Coast Guard, Petty Officer Kevin Diego is learning to overcome what may very well be his most difficult challenge yet.  On April nineteenth, the seaman was sidelined by a mishap that almost claimed his life.  Diego had only just arrived for duty at his post in Corozal and was in the process of cleaning his weapon when it accidentally discharged.  A single nine millimeter round tore through his left foot below the knee, causing severe muscle damage.

 

Kevin Diego

Kevin Diego, Petty Officer, BNCG

“A couple months ago while working I had a gun accident so I went for assistance at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.  I wasn’t planning on having them amputate my foot because I wasn’t ready for that, so I went to Chetumal for further assistance to try to save the leg.”

 

The option to seek medical attention outside of the country came several days after being hospitalized in Belize City.  During that time, the decay of soft tissues as a result of a lack of blood to the area threatened amputation.

 

John Borland

John Borland, Commander, BNCG

“He spent the better part of two weeks here in the healthcare facility in Belize City where his health deteriorated tremendously to the point where I think from day three or day five they were discussing removing his leg and I was completely against removing his leg.  But he was becoming infected with gangrene and that could even be life threatening in a very short time.”

 

Indeed, during that brief period Diego’s condition had already deteriorated.  Strapped for cash to continue with his treatment abroad, he turned to the Mexican navy for assistance.

 

Kevin Diego

“By that time the foot was dying already, muscles dying, veins totally destroyed.  Unfortunately, I was running out of money so we asked for assistance from the Mexican navy and that’s how I ended up in Mexico City.  I did a couple surgeries on my foot [but] I still eventually lost my foot but I am okay with it because I am still here.  I did some therapy sessions, some strengthening in the foot and the arms because I lost a lot of weight.”

 

That much needed help came without question.  There to aid him in his recovery was a team of doctors and therapists who worked tirelessly to rehabilitate the wounded officer.  The initiative, according to Miguel Angel Guerrero, stems from a mutual relationship between Belize and Mexico.

Miguel Angel Guerrero

 

Miguel Angel Guerrero, Chargé d’affaires, Mexican Embassy

“This is just an example of support, we chose the level of cooperation in our bilateral relations between Mexico and Belize.  In this case we were requested to assist with this person from the coast guard and that was our response.”

 

While there is no official accord between the neighboring countries, that friendly disposition has benefited Diego tremendously.

 

John Borland

“There isn’t a formal agreement between both parties, Mexican and Belize navies and coastguard, but in this case it’s more a case of a gentleman’s agreement, an informal agreement but more so on the part of the goodwill of the Office of the Secretary of the Mexican Navy.  The goodwill and his kindness no doubt, that he intervened and was able to support us the way he did.”

 

From a personal point of view, the experience for Diego’s girlfriend has been trying.

 

Ashanti Garcia

Ashanti Garcia, Girlfriend

“In the beginning it was extremely shocking, a huge family emergency I would say, like the first time in my life and I really had to fight hard to stay positive because when you hear bad news your mind just wants to think the worst and so I tried to keep my mind positive from the very beginning and that is what is helping me to go through this ordeal with him.”

 

Petty Officer Kevin Diego remains enlisted in the Belize National Coast Guard.  He has returned home for a six-week break before heading back to Mexico to complete his recuperation and fit a prosthetic limb.  His aim is to once again serve the country, despite the physical setback.

 

Kevin Diego

“Whatever I can do after getting the prosthetic limb I will do because it would be like having my leg again, having my foot all over, so I could possibly do anything that is required of me.  I want to continue working, I will continue working because I am young and I am not ready to retire.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Do you look forward to wearing your coast guard battledress once again?”

 

Kevin Diego

“Sure.  One hundred percent.  I like helping people and I look forward to helping people and I like the sea.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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