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Oct 11, 2017

No Charges for Diplomat in Fatal Accident as Family Buries 3 Victims

The fatal accident that happened on the George Price Highway over the weekend took the lives of twenty-three-year-old Marta Vasquez, her eighteen-month-old daughter Deanna Castillo and her sister-in-law, thirty-year-old Samantha Castillo. The three victims were travelling in an SUV along with Vasquez’s other daughter six-year-old Angelique Castillo – who escaped the tragedy with two broken legs. Upon reaching miles three and a half a vehicle that was allegedly speeding slammed head on into the SUV. Today, the family buried their loved ones – and as you heard here on Tuesday night – the family is in pain and devastated that they lost three young lives at the hands of a U.S. Diplomat, who will not face any criminal charges because of his status.  As promised, we share more from Tuesday’s interview with Vasquez’s brother, who is appealing to drivers to be more careful on the highways. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The deaths of Marta Vasquez, Deanna and Samantha Castillo have left the Castillo and Escobar-Vasquez families shaken to the core. Three young lives lost on the George Price Highway following the tragic traffic accident on Saturday afternoon; six year old Angelique Castillo is the only survivor. Vasquez and her two young daughters and her sister-in-law had just left off from Old Belize and were heading home to the city when near mile three and half a truck traveling in the opposite direction crashed head-on into the Castillo’s SUV which caused it to flip two times and it landed on its side off the highway. Several reports cited that the truck, driven by US Diplomat Justin Guidry, was overtaking when it slammed into the SUV on the George Price Highway. And while it is reported that Guidry caused the fatal accident that is no consolation for this family – they have lost three of their own and it is likely that they will just have to move on from this tragedy because Guidry will not be criminally charged due to his diplomatic status. The families have not been able to get the answers they are looking for.

 

Tulio Escobar

Tulio Escobar, Brother of Marta Vasquez

“We get to understand that at the moment of the impact, the diplomat just got out of the vehicle and didn’t render the aid and he just left the scene.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“He wasn’t injured?”

 

Tulio Escobar

“To our understanding, they are saying because I haven’t seen this person, they are saying that he walked out of the vehicle and got into another vehicle and he was taken to the hospital. Now the thing is that that is what hurts the most. He didn’t have no heart to render assistance. He has not gotten in contact with the family. We understand that he has been flown out already out of the country.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you guys know if any alcohol was involved? Did anybody inform you guys if the guy seemed to be under the influence? Was a sample taken to determine that? What are the police saying to you guys?”

 

Tulio Escobar

“That is a tough question.   We don’t know if this guy was drinking because the vehicle was moved away on a holiday and was moved away to a different location. I smelled it and when I went there to look for evidence the vehicle was already moved. But what can we do? We just have to see how we move on from this tragedy. It is a burden that we have on our backs that our loving sister was taken away; she was taken away in such a tragic way.”

 

Rangel Sedacy is a worker with the Castillo family. He arrived on the scene some ten minutes later and assisted the victims. In an interview on Tuesday, Sedacy told us what he heard on the scene about how the accident happened.

 

On the Phone: Rangel Sedacy, Responder

“After the accident he came back and he gave a statement to a police officer.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What did he say happen?”

 

On the Phone: Rangel Sedacy

“He say something mi di happen to fi deh vehicle and them mi di try come off the road fi nuh stop traffic and the same time he see wah vehicle mi di come and it just fly past them and same time it fly past them dah then the accident happen.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, there was some kind of over-taking happening?”

 

On the Phone: Rangel Sedacy

“Yes, ma’am. Dah mi wah over-take yes. The pickup mi di overtake whatever truck mi di bruk down fi come off the road – he over take. So when the collision happened the vehicle flipped and it land on its side.”

 

Guidry is a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy – and the police have not been able to provide us with any information other than the fact that he wasn’t served a N.I.P. – that is primarily because he cannot be held criminally liable for the accident which he allegedly caused. Guidry has diplomatic immunity – this is based on rules concerning diplomats set forth in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – agreed upon by one hundred and eighty seven countries including Belize and the U.S. The treaty states clearly that diplomatic agents, including “the members of the diplomatic staff, and of the administrative and technical staff and of the service staff of the mission” enjoy “immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State.” They also enjoy immunity from civil proceedings unless the case involves property or business interests unrelated to their diplomatic duties.

The pain for the families affected is one that many other families have faced in Belize – loved ones taken away in an instant in road traffic accidents at times by reckless drivers on the road – and Escobar appealed to drivers to do better on our highways.

 

Tulio Escobar

“They had so many plans; they had plans on marrying; having more kids and everything was going so fine and all of a sudden that was just cut out from there. But what can we do? Just pray to God for strength and guidance. And I hope that – there are so many accidents happen before and I wish that our transport department and us Belizeans – because we cannot blame the Government, we cannot blame the police or the department of Transport. It is us Belizeans  who are supposed to learn to behave better and drive more carefully especially on curves or blind spots – we cannot do that even if we have a big truck and you think you can hit the small one and you can survive – no, you cannot do that. As Belizeans we really have to start growing up from that mentality. I want to ask the people of Belize, not just us Belizeans; but life is very precious, before you take drinks or stuff things in your body, please understand that there are many loved ones out there and sometimes we are not the same person that we are when we are in our five senses. Because of one simple habit that we have of taking a beer or rum and then we drive and we cause something like this. Let’s think about the other families. We are humans and we have feelings.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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2 Responses for “No Charges for Diplomat in Fatal Accident as Family Buries 3 Victims”

  1. Rod says:

    All I can say is you are damm lucky that wasn’t any of my family this is a damm shame that this man could get away with these murders and get off Scott free he was probably drunk how can our own gov. Help this person to get off with not even a sorry to this family wow come on cola where are you on this to every citizen of Belize how can you let this person get away with three murders and not do something about march to the embassy march for justice.

  2. Rod says:

    This story really really takes the cake someone needs to come to the defense of this family a man possible drunk kills two adults and a baby doesn’t even check to see if any of them could have been helped just took off what a cowardly act then our own gov, helps him abscond without any repercussion what a cowardly sick pm and gov we have this man needs to come stand trial for the blatant murder of two adults and a baby stant up belizeans your pm and gov doesn’t care about you they don’t care if anyone kills you they just stand by mute wow wow wow . Cola stand up for this one unions stand up for this one belizeans stand up for this one your pm and gov. Won’t cowards all of them from pm down,opgt4

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