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Sep 16, 2011

Boat Accident injures tourists and perhaps tourism industry

A US couple enjoying their honeymoon in the Jewel was seriously injured at sea. A water taxi ran over them as they snorkeledoff San Pedro at around mid-day.  Rob Leonard’s leg was sliced by the water taxi while his wife Dana was also injured.  The couple was airlifted to Belize City for urgent medical treatment. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A boating accident off the southern coast of San Pedro near Suya Tours at midday has left an American couple, visiting from Virginia, seriously injured.  Shortly after twelve o’clock today thirty-one year old Rob Leonard and his wife Dana, who are honeymooning in Belize, were snorkeling when they were ran over by a water taxi belonging to San Pedro Belize Express.  The vessel had just sped past another passenger boat driven at the time by Andrew Logan when its rotors caught the unsuspecting tourists.

Andrew Logan, Captain, Caye Caulker Water Taxi

“Going towards San Pedro a boat came past me, it went flying towards San Pedro and upon going on to San Pedro the boat slowed down so I was thinking that [it was] an engine failure but when I noticed clearly [there were] some people inside the water waving.  So I approached them and I realized that there was a pool of blood around and the people were asking me for help so I went and I helped.  When I went closer I saw [that] the guy didn’t have a leg.  His right leg was gone.”

Andrew Logan

Leonard was immediately placed near the stern of this boat owned by Caye Caulker Water Taxi.  His right lower leg below the knee was severed during the incident and a tourniquet had to be applied to stop the profuse bleeding.

Andrew Logan

“I took off my belt and I give it to the guy downstairs so he could tie it so the blood could stop pouring and that was it. It was pretty frightening to see somebody without a leg so, [but] on the other hand I’m a captain so I’ve got to keep my [composure] steady my calm together, get my things together and assist because it could have been me as well.”

Dana Leonard received superficial injuries to her right wrist and she, along with her husband, were rushed to the San Pedro Polyclinic before being airlifted by a waiting Tropic Air plane to Belize City.

Andrew Logan

“We pulled the guy to the back of the boat, rendered assistance and we took him directly to San Pedro [after] which the Polyclinic [personnel] took him from there and I don’t know what else happened from there.”

Isani Cayetano

“More or less where did this accident take place near the island?”

Andrew Logan

“This is the south point of San Pedro in front of Suya’s Adventures.  And that was pretty close where that accident happened.”

Isani Cayetano

“And these tourists were snorkeling?”

Andrew Logan

“Yeah, they were snorkeling.”

Isani Cayetano

“Give us a description of the vessel that actually ran over these tourists.”

Andrew Logan

“Well it’s an outboard machine boat, it’s a speedboat with thirty-eight feet, two, two hundred [horsepower] Yamaha [engines] on it.  That’s about the best of it.”

Boat captain Anthony Ortiz is currently under investigation and it is unclear at this time whether any charges will be brought against him. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The couple was scheduled to conclude their honeymoon in Belize and return to the US on Saturday. But all that has now changed.

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10 Responses for “Boat Accident injures tourists and perhaps tourism industry”

  1. Marie says:

    convict these idiot boat drivers and sue the companies for hiring them-we cant even as locals swim like we used to without idiots driving crazy like they own the sea. I hope they both (company and driver) get sued big

  2. Storm says:

    Tourism and water sports are the heart of Belize’s present hopes for any prosperity at all.

    We need modern laws and to enforce them to protect both the waters that attract the tourists, and the tourists [and Belizeans!] themselves.

    It CANNOT be acceptable to have reckless[often drunk] captains roaring around and over swimmers!

    I say jail for the captain, as an example to others.

  3. Belizean says:

    Very sad situation!!!! I feel for the couple.

  4. Oscar965 says:

    So many questions remain unaswered and need to be cleared up. Questions like: Were the tourist snorkling on thier own? With so many people living in Condos now a days..they bring their own gear and do not use the local dive shops. Dive shops always warn tourist to stay away from the boat lane. Did the tourist have proper reflective gear that dive shops give to them so they are visible. Lets remember that if no reflective gear is used its very hard to notice that someone is in the water. San Pedro Town invested in marker buoys a couple of years ago and boat captains know that they must slow down when they traffic inside the buoy makers. So did the area have buoy markers? So many questions…lets get them answered and best wishes and a speedy recovery for the vicitms…

  5. Sasha says:

    If it was truly an accicdent I’m sorry, otherwise make rules where people and boats can pass without hurting each other.

  6. FP says:

    I couldn’t finish the article. It gave me a headache. My heart goes out to the couple. What a tragedy.

  7. krtdiaz says:

    Time and time again this happened in San Pedro. Have they not learned anything?? What are the Hotels, the BTB, the BHA, the BTIA doing to protect the people who bring in the money?? What has been done by the Port Authority since the last incident?? Who went to jail?? Who reported to the public on the findings, recommendations, mitigation plans and pending actions??

    Belize stands to be at the end of the pole when it comes to safety and high on gross negligence. I am sad to hear this case and I really hope that they do sue and get loads of money from the person or persons or company responsible. Maybe then something in the line of monitoring and corrective actions will come on line to save lives…both domestic and foreign.

    My heart goes out to the couple..

  8. KIKA says:

    they should have patrols on the sea just as they had traffic men monitoring speed and order on roads. all should be fair and pay for penalty.

  9. Gary says:

    WOW!!!I read everyone’s comment and still wondering why everyone quickly blames the captains….No one bothered to ask if they were snorkeling in the right area or did the captain passed into a snorkeling area?

  10. ERIC says:

    HAS ANYONE READ OR SEEN THE LATEST NEWS ON THIS INCIDENT? THESE PEOPLE WERE SET FREE OF CHARGES ACCUSING THE COUPLE OF BEING AT THE WRONG PLACE.

    Port Says No Fault In Accident That Severed Tourist’s Leg

    According to the Port’s findings, “the snorkelers were inadvertently swimming in an area, where vessels navigate, and the choppy seas at the time of the incident reduced visibility”.

    What will we do about this. We should stand against this. The tourism industry will be severed more than this gentleman’s leg. Remember San Pedro is the heart of the tourism industry. Helloooooooooo Belize. This is the Bread and butter of our country. Come on GOB!

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