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Feb 26, 2001

Mopan River claims three lives

In a strange set of coincidences, Cayo’s Mopan River proved to be the final resting-place for three accident victims in three separate incidents over the weekend. On Friday afternoon a Canadian tourist, fifty year old John Raycroft, drowned while tubing near Clarissa Falls. He apparently became separated from his inner tube in the rapids. His body was not recovered until Sunday and awaits a postmortem.

Also awaiting an autopsy is the body of nineteen year old Elizabeth Ortega of San Ignacio. She was one of four passengers in a vehicle that ran off the Western Highway near mile seventy-two around three-thirty Sunday morning. Following the accident, the driver, Victor Moreno, and three passengers were hospitalised and it was only learned later that there was a fourth passenger in the vehicle. A subsequent search of the area resulted in the discovery of Ortega’s body in the river.

In the weekend’s third river death, a Guatemalan, twenty-nine year old Lenin Garcia drowned on Saturday morning when he attempted to swim across the Mopan from Belize to Guatemala. Garcia and his brother apparently spotted a Belizean guard and his dog hired by the Border Management Agency to patrol the Belize side of the border. While Lenin Garcia tired to swim away, the brother did not, and reported the incident to Belizean border officials. The body was not recovered until this morning. Guatemalan press accounts have claimed that the two men were assaulted by the Belizean authorities, but a News 5 investigation can find no substantiation for these reports.

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