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Apr 24, 2006

Cyclist drowns in weekend boating accident

Story PictureSearch efforts continue at sea tonight following a boating accident in the waters off Belize City. Police reports are that around nine on Saturday night forty-one year old Robert Massiah and four friends were in a twenty-three foot fibreglass boat near the Stake Bank area when the vessel suddenly began to take on water. Tonight we understand that as the boat started to sink, Massiah, an epileptic, suffered an attack and despite the efforts of his companions, disappeared beneath the waves. On Sunday, personnel from the Anti-Drug and Maritime units, the Police Department, the Coastguard, and the Port Authority pooled resources to find Massiah, but so far those attempts have netted no sign of the missing man. Massiah rode to national recognition in 1985 when he won the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. This afternoon, former team-mate Melvin Torres paid tribute to his childhood friend.

Melvin Torres, President, Belize Cycling Association
?The loss from my standpoint is immense because he was a close and personal friend and because he was a champion also. We will regret the loss and we send our condolences to the family and to all his peers and that sort of thing.?

?Way back in about 1983 or ?84 while we were training, we had an accident similar to what I would think could have happened to him on the boat accident, but I was one of the person who had to literally carry him because his grand mal seizure lasted for quite a period. I guess with me, that three or four minutes lasted for about an hour for me because I was the person who had to coax him. So I know that it lasts for a period, so if that would catch him out there in the seas the disaster is here with us.?

?Robert is always a cool person. He is more an introvert more than anything else, but I think that he shared the best way he can and he showed that the glory of winning this race and the importance of winning such race. It was not important at that time when he won because it was not internationalised at that time yet, but clearly after he recognised the difficulties that the foreigners brought in, he was trying to give us his perspective on how he did in his race.?

?My heart too full at this time to talk about him. At this time I am trying to hold back at this time because he was real close to me, he was a real close and personal friend, I knew him all my life I could say. I just want to say to the cyclists out there to please come to the funeral as soon as we get word and kindly show this rider that we remember him and his actions and his deeds will be remembered by all of us.?

Massiah’s companions on Saturday night: Alwin Gonzalez, Floyd Bermudez, Hallett Arnold, and Kevin Ferguson were pulled from the sea by good Samaritans who were passing through the area in another boat.

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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