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Apr 25, 2012

3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea

Elton Bennett

Three Corozal fishermen have been missing for four days and their family now fears the worst. According to relatives, forty-nine year old Silverio Tepaz, fifty year old Teobaldo Tepaz and twenty year old Mejadi Tepaz left Sarteneja Village by road on April twelfth and headed to Mango Creek where their boat was moored. They went fishing in southern Belize and were expected to return home on Saturday night. Since they have not been in contact, the family turned to the Belize Coast Guard and an intensive search was launched on Monday. Acting Commandant of the Coast Guard, Lieutenant Commander Elton Bennett gave News Five an update on the search and rescue mission. Bennett says they suspect that foul play may have been involved.

 

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett, Ag. Commandant, Belize Coastguard 

“On Monday, the twenty-third April, we received information on the delay of a vessel by the name of Lucerito. There were three persons on board and the last known location of the vessel was between Twin Caye and Southwater Caye. The intended destination was Belize City and the men believed they should have been in Belize by midnight on Saturday. They never made the Belize City route. The family members informed us on Monday and we commenced a search immediately; a joint search between the Belize Coastguard, the Fisheries and members of the family. Yesterday evening the aerial search unit spotted the submerged vessel just off the north western tip of Glovers Reef. We immediately responded to that location and upon arrival we noticed the mass of the vessel protruding from below the surface, the vessel itself was submerged. We immediately conducted a dive of the scene and we conducted a follow up dive this morning. There are no signs of the persons on board. It will be a challenging operation; the probability of detection decreases as time goes by, the search area increases as time goes by. We’ve requested the assistance of the Belize Defence Force air wing to assist with an aerial search. They commenced the search this morning and we currently have a total of over five surface vessels doing search in that area.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“Any idea as to when the boat went down or when the men were last heard from?”

 

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“The last transmission from the men to their families to their families was on Friday night and they stated that they should have been in Belize City by midnight on Saturday. They never made it to Belize City. There was a freak storm that occurred off the southern coast of Belize on Saturday night. It could have been one of the factors as to why the incident occurred.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“The boat was it—apart from sinking—was it badly damaged or anything?”

 

Lt. Comm. Elton Bennett

“Well, it was grounded on the reef and so there was a little bit of damage on the hull. I don’t think it’s salvageable; it will probably remain as a wreck at that location. There were a few missing items that could have been caused by some wave action when we conducted the dive. We’re still looking at all angles on this case. We’re not only treating it as search and rescue but there could have possibly been foul play in this incident.”

 

Family members say they were contacted by the three men everyday up until Friday night. One of their relatives, Gloria Cruz, told us today that the family has been involved in search efforts and while they fear something may have gone wrong, they are holding on to hope.

 

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz, Relative of Missing Fishermen

“We are doing our best with fishermen out there trying to help us, rescue teams formed with fishermen from the village.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“What all have you been doing to try and find them?”

 

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz

“Well, they are out there searching the reef, the cayes because they have hope that they are alive; three of them.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“And I understand you all found the boat on Tuesday?”

 

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz

“Yes, yesterday evening by four o’clock. My brother was on a flight, we rented a plane and by four o’clock he called me and he told me that they were seeing the boat. So I informed the coast guard and the Fisheries Department, my brothers that were out there. So they went to Glovers Reef because it was right there where they saw the boat, hoping that when they get there they would find them in the boat, but they were not in there.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“The stuff that they took with them and maybe the fish that they caught, was any of that in the boat?”

 

Via Phone: Gloria Cruz

“The bags of clothes, their equipment, fishing equipment was in the boat. As far as we know, the engine was not in the boat nor the ice box, the gallons of gasoline they are not in the boat either. That’s what the men out there, the experience they have they are trying to see maybe some of those things floating in the sea.”

 

Cruz says they are not giving up and will head back to sea to continue the search on Thursday. The Northern Fishermen Cooperative is reportedly organizing a search team to assist in locating the Tepaz family members. 

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5 Responses for “3 Sarteneja Fishermen lost at Sea”

  1. now i see says:

    Were they missing before or after the drug plane? Just cheking.

  2. zabdi says:

    they were missing since saturday april 21st

  3. lunar says:

    “now i see” what plane of drugs are you talking about???

  4. mentor says:

    now i see is just an @$$….cant help him/herself

  5. Let us pray says:

    Let us pray for these men and their families. Pray that God will give them safe return. Pray for the search crews to be safe as well. These men are God’s children, so they the LORD is with them even now. Praise God for that truth and comfort.

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