2 brothers from Belmopan drown in river
Tragedy struck a Belmopan family on Labor Day. Two brothers who were at a farm in Valley of Peace decided to take a quick swim in the Belize River in the Banana Bank area to cool down and rinse off the day’s dust. But within minutes of arriving at the river, it appears that the swift currents took the brothers underwater and they never resurfaced. Despite immediate rescue efforts from people swimming at the river, the bodies were never recovered until today by a search team. News Five Andrea Polanco report from the capital.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
Since early this morning, friends and family gathered on the banks of the Belize River in the Banana Bank Area, waiting for the Belize Coast Guard to recover the bodies of two brothers who went underwater since Tuesday evening. Around eight thirty this morning, the body of twenty six year old Osbourne Grant was recovered. A couple hours later, the search team recovered the second body, that of thirty two year old Allyson Thimbriel Jr.
Lt. Gregory Soberanis, Belize Coast Guard
“Last night, Coast Guard headquarters got a call that there was a drowning incident—two persons went down. The commandant quickly notified the coast guard dive team. We mobilized early this morning, made our way to Belmopan where we made contact with the family; we came to the dive site and immediately began our search efforts in locating the two missing individuals. We began the subservice search at about eight o’clock this morning and about twenty minutes after, we found the first individual and the police came in very quickly and took the body into Belmopan. At about eleven o’clock, the second body was discovered and that was able to give the family the closure that they needed.”
Dionicia Assi of Roaring Creek says the area is a popular swimming spot for locals. She was at the river at the time and witnessed the tragic incident. She tried to help:
Dionicia Assi, Eyewitness
“Like ten minutes, we hear one ah the lady mom help, mom help and they started hollering for one another and started to help them. It’s a pity we have a bucket and a rope. We throw the bucket and we throw the rope to try save them. They only held down on the bucket and swim wah lee bit and the next one dash it to the next one and that’s how the two come out. But them two mi di try hard, but they couldn’t make it I think. It could be the cramp that catched them.”
“So after all of that happened and the brothers went down, what happened after that?”
“My gentleman and wah next man gone—they find a dorey—and they mi try and gone look for them, but they didn’t see anything.”
According to Shayla Ann Burns, shortly before five on Tuesday evening the brothers were enjoying a quick swim in the river, contrary to reports that they were saving a little girl’s life:
Shayla Ann Burns, Friend of the Deceased
“All ah we tek and we come out and gone in ah the water and the minute I deh halfway ina ya so, I feel the current di ker me. I tell my bwai friend the current the ker me—that I need fi go back in. So he take and he push me and I just manage to fi just and come back in. And by the time I look dah back I see the youngest one, Osbourne, he tek and he done mi di go under already. And by the time they mi di go fi he, wah policeman mi deh yah with his family and he through wa bucket. But he neva mi wah hold the bucket, he wa go save ih bredda and within that dah my boyfriend, my bredda and then Allison mi deh behind. And weh ih catch cramp, ih just slip weh from my bredda. My bredda come out; he only had on ih boxer because ih rip off my bredda pants and all. When I just look, I see they just come outta di water—the current mi di go with all ah dehn. And dah so they manage to get the bucket back and to dave my bredda and my boyfriend and dah soh they come outta di water.”
“And so the other two brothers went under the water and never resurfaced?”
“Never resurfaced but we wait, we had some people, here weh mi deh yah di help we and the lady said if they had the dorey at the same time, they coulda mi gone ina di water. They took like wah lee two minutes fi gone back and get dehn dorey and come back, but we noh find nothing because nobody noh want go dive back inna the wata you know.”
“Reports are that they were trying to save a little girl?”
“No that wasn’t true. The little girl, apparently, they said was my daughter. She never even mi gone ina the water. She holla fi make my boyfriend come fi ahn. By the time he reach halfway in front yah, she say I noh want go again daddy. So I tell ahn stay right there then. So dah mi me and she mi wahn di fight fi come out. So I noh know weh the story come from that dah she and dah me and so. And people di say that the two bwai drowned because they were saving me and she when I neva even mi deh too close to them. And for the record too, I had my sister call Love FM this morning because last night she get some text and they di tell she that she dah really wah unfit mother. Because of you, two lives were taken today, stupid B****. So we know who is the person already. We know who dah the person already, we contacted the police and let them know about the text that we are getting because the story noh goh soh none at all. They neva di save nobody life; they never mi di save nobody life, they were just mi di try save deh own.”
Today the river appears very calm; but swift currents run under. It is possible the river’s power may have been underestimated:
Shayla Ann Burns
“Well first time I di come dah this spot and the current mi look strong so that why I noh tek and gone more in the water. I guess the current just ker them. They noh know di spot. First time deh di come yah and as they reach they gone in. the thing is they coulda mi stand up. When dehn tractors and they people dehn come get sand a gravel, they dig and dah big thing they drop down ina the ground and they neva aware of that.”
“Was the river higher yesterday than it is today?”
“Yes it was higher because right there, the water was up more and you couldn’t have seen the tire very good and it much calmer today. It was rough yesterday.”
Lt. Gregory Soberanis
“Rivers are always dangerous because there are a lot of under current that people don’t normally see. A lot of times, they would come to the river and they underestimate the power of the current and they try to fight against the current—exhaust themselves—and then eventually they are taken down. So there are a lot of water safety awareness that needs to be conducted especially at these times when you have a lot of people doing aquatic activities—whether it is in the iver or at sea.”
Burns believes the response time from the respective search and rescue teams was inadequate.
“And so from since yesterday, the search party started searching for the bodies?”
Shayla Ann Burns
“None at all. That da the other thing weh piss we off because as the minute it happen—this happen like four-fifty-seven. The first person I call dah my ma and after that, I call my stepfather like how he dah police. He contacted the coast guard. He said they done call the police; the police done left and the coast guard di come. At that time, sun mi still deh out hot; people coulda mi done di start to come yah already. Then after that they said the coast guard noh di come. When you look, they said a Cayo search and rescue team di come. They took three hours to reach ya. I noh know if dehn mi di swim downstream or ina vehicle. They took three years to reach yah. When they reached here, it was after eight. They said they forgot some tank; they said they have to go back. They went back. we called them and asked them if they were going to come back, they said no. we waited out here and then we gone home. they could have find dehn bwai from then because they had some other helpers around here so weh mi ready to go into the water from last night with light. And they noh find di bwai them far—they found them at the same spot where they let go.”
“So you feel they were negligent in terms of carrying out the search?”
Shayla Ann Burns
“Yes. And the other thing too is—I noh di bash anybody in the Belmopan City—but if they call we di capital, we supposed to have fi we own search and rescue team than fi make we deh di call this City and call this district fi mek nobody nuh show up.”
The police transported the bodies of Grant and Thimbrel to the morgue for an autopsy. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.