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Sep 4, 2020

An S.P.U. Officer is Missing in the Columbia Forest Reserve

Bernard Ical

Tonight, the family of police constable Bernard Ical is hoping for his safe return.  A search by the B.D.F. and Police is underway deep inside the Columbia Forest Reserve between Machaquila and San Jose, Hawaii.  Ical was last seen on September second.  The father of three is part of the border patrol deployed to the area.  Because of the impeding storm, the patrol was called to return from Machaquila; Ical was the first to leave, but never arrived at the rendezvous point in San Jose and was reported missing on Thursday morning. His family says that the last time he had contact with them was on Tuesday when he told his wife he was heading to Machaquila.  Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report. 


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A massive search and rescue effort is underway to locate Police Constable Bernard Ical who has been reported missing in the dense wilderness of the Columbia Forest Reserve.  On Tuesday, the officer, a member of the Special Patrol Unit, set out to Machaquila to conduct foot patrol.  He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“This morning we deployed a team of S.P.U. officers to the area and B.D.F. also deployed a team of B.D.F. to the area and they are currently in search of PC Ical.  We’re hoping that it is just a matter of him losing his bearings and that he would be found okay.  It is an extremely long walk from where they would normally do the drop-off to get to the outpost and it is in rough terrain, so it will require a number of hours of walking and searching.”


The Columbia Forest Reserve is both rugged and remote and is a four-hour hike from San Jose Village.  On Thursday morning around eight o‘clock, the patrol commander reported that PC Ical did not make it to that rendezvous point.  Commissioner of Police Chester Williams was made aware of the development six hours later.


Chester Williams

“I also received that unfortunate information yesterday around two p.m. and since then I have been in constant dialogue with the commander of the Belize Defense Force, as you would know that that is a B.D.F. outpost and a patrol that falls within the scope of the B.D.F. responsibility.  But I have dialogued with the wife of PC Ical this morning and have assured her that we will do all we can with a view to find and return her husband home alive.”


According to ComPol Williams, the patrol had been recalled from the area when Tropical Storm Nana’s landfall in southern Belize became imminent.


Chester Williams

“He was at the outpost with the B.D.F. soldiers on Wednesday and you would know that we were in preparation for Hurricane Nana and so one of the instructions given was that the outpost that they were at was to be vacated and the officers or the soldiers and the officer were to be brought to safer grounds and according to the B.D.F. officers who were with him on that patrol, is that after they had packed their belongings and were prepared to leave, that was when they noticed that he was missing.  During the whole time that they were packing, he was with them, according to them and he assisted them in packing and as they were prepared to leave, he was nowhere to be found.  So we’re looking at it.  The B.D.F. officers or the B.D.F. soldiers who were a part of the patrol have been interviewed, some of them are still being interviewed at this time by the police with a view to ascertain exactly what happened and to give us more or less a location where to concentrate our search.”


Claudia Ical reported that her husband left home in San Roman Village, Stann Creek District on Monday afternoon sometime around two o’clock en route to Fairweather Camp in Punta Gorda.  Her last communication with him was on Tuesday at four a.m. when he informed her that he was headed to Machaquila on foot patrol.


Chester Williams

“I am hoping that by the end of the day today we would get some answers and that is all I’ll say about that matter for now.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


The Ministry of National Security has also communicated with its Guatemalan counterparts that Ical is missing in the case he wanders into Guatemalan territory.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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