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Aug 31, 2010

Mata Chica Resort employee dies during altercation at staff party

Early Monday night, a staff party ended fatally for an employee of a resort in San Pedro. Fifty-seven year old Gregorio Conejo, a father of two, was hit in the face by a guest at the party at Mata Chica where he was employed for at least ten years. He fell off the pier and into the sea. Conejo was retrieved from the water and transported by boat to the area of the Fido’s dock in town. But he did not survive the incident and passed away before he could get medical attention. Various persons have been detained but no formal charges have been levied. Early this morning, News Five’s Jose Sanchez travelled to the island and files this report.

Jose Sanchez

“The empty beaches on San Pedro signifies the end of the tourist season.  The staff of the Mata Chica Resort decided to commemorate this occasion with a staff party. But before the night was over, one man was dead.”

Sergeant Dwane McCulloch, CIB, San Pedro

dwane mcculloch

“San Pedro Police visited a dock here in town where they observed the lifeless body of a male person who was later pronounced dead by doctor Daniel Gonzales. Investigation revealed that while he was at a staff party at a resort, about four miles north of San Pedro, he was involved in an altercation with a male person who punched him in the face and fell into the water. He was later retrieved from the water and placed inside a boat where he started to regurgitate a substance that appeared to be water. He was rushed to town to seek medical attention where he died on arrival.”

This morning, the waves rippled calmly under the dock from which Gregorio Cornejo met his death.  The mood however, was somber at Mata Chica Resort, after the staff party that turned deadly.  The manager would not speak on camera but said the staff is supporting the family of Cornejo. Cornejo, who leaves behind two kids, did not know how to swim.

Jose Sanchez

“From the time the incident occurred when he was punched and fell in the water, how long did I take it to retrieve him from the water in regards to receiving transportation that would aid in his medical attention?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“Well, he was along with some friends and they were socializing, so I don’t think it took long to place him in the boat. I’m not sure of the time span from there to town.”

Jose Sanchez

“What’s the name of the deceased?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

‘His name is Gregorio Eustaquio Cornejo. He is fifty-seven years old. His date of birth is third of the twelfth 52’.”

Jose Sanchez

“He’s originally from Libertad?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“Yes, Libertad Village Corozal.”

San Pedro Police have since detained twenty year old Oscar Barela, an unemployed man of Angel Coral Street in San Pedro.  Whether or not he will be charged for murder or manslaughter is not yet known.

Jose Sanchez

“The person who fired that blow. He also was a friend?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“I’m not sure at this time. It was a staff party. Information received is that he was just a visitor.”

Jose Sanchez

“Has that person been detained?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“We have some persons detained pending investigation.”

Jose Sanchez

“The person you have detained is an employee of Mata Chica?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“Ah, some of the person we got detained—we also have a person who is not an employee of Mata Chica detained.”

Jose Sanchez

“Let me understand, even though there is only one person that fired this punch that landed him in the water, it seems like a one man incident. Why do you have more than one person?”

Sgt Dwane McCulloch

“We are still conducting the investigation and hence that is the reason we have them detained pending questioning.”

Jose Sanchez

“Reporting from the Island of San Pedro, Jose Sanchez for News Five.

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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13 Responses for “Mata Chica Resort employee dies during altercation at staff party”

  1. Robert says:

    First, I hope it is prosecuted as a homicide. When you resort to force and violence, death is always a foreseeable possibility.

    Second, if the man was regurgitating water, he could have been saved by anyone with basic lifeguard / First Aid training. I think that should be mandatory for tourist workers in Belize — it’s an easy skill to learn, and it will save several lives a year. Too many Belizeans drown because we lack basic lifesaving skills, even though we live on and around the water.


    Some friends drinking together, eventually drank more than the brain could handled, all sense of control lost, and a life lost foolishly over nothing at all. I have heard of this same scenaro on the Belize news more times than i care to remember.

    The man fell into the waters, and he was retrieved from the water but no one applied CPR on him, sad.

  3. BZNinCALI says:

    Maybe none of the witnesses knew how to swim or perform CPR, that is the only excuse they have for leaving this man in the water, even if it was for a short time. The other people present need to prosecuted for failure to render aid, they could not all be so drunk that they were oblivious to what was going on.

  4. BigLunch says:

    Sorry this Gentleman died trying to have a good time.I hope someone is charged with this crime. Sorry to say this but drinking is Belize’s favoriote pastime.Belize is a jewel yes but with some blemishes.

  5. Oscar965 says:

    SHAME!!!! on Mata Chica for not being able to perform CPR on thier own employee. The press release from the resort states that they DID provide CPR but the staff present says that NO CPR was done. And i know this because one of my good friends works at Mata Chica. The staff party started around 1pm on the day of the accident. The accident happened around 7pm…with most employees and guests having consumed a considerable amount of liquor. The person detained IS A FAMILY MEMBER of the MANAGER of the resort. But in the end, a husband, father is dead because a “so called top resort” in San Pedro could not provide proper CPR. Sad..very sad…

  6. Elgin Martinez says:

    I already know what the verdict is going to be.Stop wasting tax dollars on these cases if there isn’t going to be a conviction.

  7. Proud says:

    This is really sad. My condolences to his family. CPR would have worked. I agree with Robert. Its neglect…leaves to wonder what kind of friends he had. RIP Greg

  8. Earl Grey says:

    BY NOW IT’S OBVIOUS THAT THE — RED CROSS …. (an NGO) — needs to STEP UP WITH SOME CPR TRAINING. September is a good time to start classes that lead to some sort of CERTIFICATION. DO IT NOW!!!!!!


  9. thinker says:

    so sad to hear about Mr. Gregorio’s death. I did not know him personally, but my kids know his two sons from school time. It was a staff party,too much drinking, and nobody bothered to help the poor man when he dropped in the water. What really happened? only those present know exactly what happened, but nobody wants to talk. Oscar Varela is indeed the manager’s nephew,but regardless of that, someone has to say the truth. I’ve heard many different stories to this matter here in San Pedro,but what is true? I hope something or someone is convicted for this sudden death.

  10. Earl Grey says:

    Why do we need to resort to VIOLENCE to settle a dispute???

    Can’t someone just walk away???

    Can’t other’s around STOP THE MAYHEM when it starts???

  11. woody says:

    Earl Grey i agree it’s about time people learn that it takes a bigger man to walk away from a fight than to get into a fight, unfortunately most of the younger generation have the “macho man” mentality and want to prove they are big man and start a fight. when a youth goes after a 57 yr old then something is dreadfully wrong with today’s society. where is the respect for elders that we were taught while growing up.

  12. Also Concerned says:

    This family should file a wrongful death suit against Mata Chica. Even if the deceased was not assaulted by MC’s owners or their reps, they were on MC ground, attending an official MC event. He was still officially on their time and their responsibility. As a previous poster said, they should have performed basic CPR on the man. Had this been a guest, would they not have done the same? It’s just hard to believe that the deceased worked at MC for a decade and no one there knew that he could not swim. Some interest they take in their employees.

  13. Lola_18 says:

    What happened with this case? its so sad that Justice is not applied when needed, this seems to have indeed been cause of neglect.. I know the matachica staff, and they are all but a bunch of drunkards.. its tragic that we have to live with criminals walking around without the slightest feeling of regret.. they leave for 1-2yrs and then come back as if nothing has happened…

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