On December 27th, we reported on a vessel that capsized on the New River while transporting visiting tourists from a tour to the Lamanai ruin on Christmas Day. And while the incident saw several of the passengers sustain varying degrees of injuries, the incident went under the radar despite the Port Authority’s declaration that an investigation was ongoing.
But tonight, a family of four which make up almost half of the occupants onboard the vessel at the time of the mishap are outraged that nothing is being done, about a tour trip that almost ended in tragedy. Linda Lekarczyk contacted us from Albuquerque, New Mexico and recounted the dreadful experience. Reporter Maria Novelo revisits the story and filed the following report.
Maria Novelo – Reporting
On Christmas Day, a group of ten US tourists onboard the Norwegian Cruise ship decided to spend the day on the mainland to visit the Lamanai ruin in the Orange Walk District. Through Cruise Solutions, they paid for a tour with Lamanai Eco Adventures, but little did they know the tour would end in an almost tragic ordeal. As we reported, the captain of the vessel lost control in the wake of a wave of a much larger boat ahead. Passenger of the vessel, Linda Lekarczyk recounts the tale to us via telephone from Albuquerque, New mexico.
“When we hit the first wave from the other boat at high speed, we hit it, it came down pretty loud and then it sent us flying in the air and then we came down and then we hit the second wave and then that is the one that flip us over in the air, I just knew that as soon as we hit that first wave this is it we are going to die and the next thing I know am under the boat and when you falling behind other boat it is going soft too and when you hit those waves that is a very dangerous situation and am afraid somebody else is going to get killed, we were lucky we didn’t had any children on that boat, you know there were no life vests on that boat, when we flipped over and we were underneath that boat, my father-in-law he doesn’t know how to swim and somehow he manage to hold on from the front part of the boat and there was nothing for us to grab on. I am not comfortable feeling that I could take another tour thinking that I am going to be safe, we paid a lot of money on a ship and these tours and I just don’t’ feel you have all done the research for you and making sure everything is ok and you know, you are on vacation, you are not thinking about anything bad that is going to happen and we lost all of our belongings, all of our cameras, and we had a large bag of souvenirs and he had an identification and it all went down and we are still suffering having night mares and I mean we almost got killed and that is pretty scary.”
While verbal statements were given to police, Lekarczyk says the family has not been contacted by authorities or the company. Lekarczyk says they will be doing all they can to recover their losses.
Ports Commissioner, Merlene Martinez told us via email, that investigations concluded that the captain of the vessel was at fault. Charges have been levied against the owner of the vessel, who has paid the fines; and the captain will also be charged. Regarding prevention, Port Authority advises that all captains are required to pass examinations based on the training manual, which teaches boating safety.
The recommendation emanating from the investigation includes the suggestion that Port Authority make periodic visits to these sites, and putting out additional safety messages. Martinez ended saying that it is a recommendation that they intend to act on. Otherwise, it depends on the captains to practice boating safety. It is the hope that the fines imposed prove a deterrent" end quote.
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