Posted: Friday, April 20, 2018. 12:34 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: Last night, BBN reported of Paraiso villager, Lionel Velasquez, who works at Turneffe Island and reportedly fell off of the company boat while going to work and is lost at sea.
Turneffe Island Resort (TIR) has just issued an official statement confirming that a boating accident involving TIR watercraft Eagle Ray occurred on Wednesday evening.
“TIR watercraft Eagle Ray departed the dock at the Radisson for Turneffe Island Resort in the late afternoon for a staff transfer with a captain and 7 employees onboard. At approximately 7:00 p.m.local time, while traveling past the shipping channel into open waters, TIR employee and mechanical engineering team member Lionel Velasquez fell overboard,” the statement says.
The resort says that passengers on the boat witnessed the accident and alerted the boat captain immediately, who then proceeded to begin recovery efforts by circling back to recover Lionel.
Meanwhile, the captain issued a “man overboard” distress signal over the watercraft’s radio to Turneffe Island Resort.
Island staff immediately contacted the Belizean Coast Guard and within minutes of receiving the distress signal, Turneffe Island Resort deployed two additional boats to aid the Coast Guard in search and rescue efforts.
Search and rescue began by the Coast Guard and 3 TIR water-crafts and continued until the early morning of April 19, – at which time the Coast Guard officially called for a pause to regroup with additional search efforts restarting at first light.
Additional search and rescue efforts resumed at sunrise on April 19, when Turneffe Island Resort deployed a helicopter with full search and rescue personnel onboard to provide aerial search support alongside 2 TIR water-crafts in tandem with the Coast Guard.
According to TIR, their management notified the immediate family as events unfolded, and have been in contact ever since in addition to deploying a vessel and its lead captain to transport and support the family in Friday’s search efforts.
Today, full search and rescue efforts remain in effect and family and friends of Lionel have joined TIR aboard its watercraft for continued search in cooperation with the Belize Coast Guard.
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