The Macal River claimed the life of two promising students from the Corozal District on Friday. The fourth form students of Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico were returning home from a school trip at the Che Chem Ha Caves, when the group made a stop in San Ignacio near the low-lying bridge to wash themselves. That is when death came calling as 16 year old Edgar Puck from the Village of Patchakan and 15 year old Anahi Zepeda from San Joaquin, were carried by the currents and drowned. It is a sad situation, one that has prompted an investigation and has left more questions than answers for those who lost their loved ones. Victor Castillo has the story from Corozal.


anahiVictor Castillo – Reporting


Sixteen year old Edgar Puck from the Village of Patchakan and 15 year old Anahi Zepeda from San Joaquin, were scheduled to graduate from Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico in a few months. Puck was scheduled to give the valedictorian speech while Zepeda, an honor roll student was to walk the aisle with the rest of her peers.

But instead of planning a graduation party the families of both students are tonight mourning their death.


This is the entrance to the grounds of Escuela Secundaria Mexico located in the Village of San Roman in the Corozal District. A black bow tied to the fence of the school is indication that something went terribly wrong and life was lost. That’s the life of Puck and Zepeda who drowned in the Macal River while on a school trip on Friday in the Cayo District.


After a scheduled visit to Che Chem Ha Caves the group was returning home, when according to one of the teachers, the bus stopped near the low-lying bridge in San Ignacio for the students to wash themselves. Police is reporting that while in the river Zepeda was dragged down by the currents. Upon seeing that she was in trouble Puck reportedly tried to assist her and that is when they both went under and never resurfaced.


It’s a situation that has marked the school negatively, one that has prompted an investigation on behalf of the Ministry of Education along with the Board of Directors of ESTM.


Carlos Castillo – Principal ESTM


“The investigation is still ongoing we have not concluded that yet we are just beginning so we cannot really make any statement.”


According to Principal of ESTM, Carlos Castillo, the students had consent to go on the trip but not to go swimming.

 

Carlos Castillo- Principal ESTM


“It was an educational trip they went to look at the caves in Cayo and they were scheduled to return on the same day at 7:00pm.”


Reporter


“The teachers who were in charge of this expedition are you able to tell us what information they have provided at this stage. I know that you have mentioned that you can’t provide us with details but they must have given you a briefing that you are able to speak on.”


edgarCarlos Castillo- Principal ESTM


“This is what we began to do when they told me the media was out here and wanted an interview so we interrupted the sessions to give you an interview we were just beginning so we cannot really give a final statement as to what happened.”


Reporter


“Can you tell us what is the emotional state of the parents are they angry at the school or are they grieving at this time?”

 

 

Carlos Castillo- Principal ESTM


“They are grieving and we spoke to both families and there were queries they have and we told them we need and investigation and they were satisfied with that they are not angry at us they are saddened just as how we are in fact the entire faculty, the whole ESTM family is sadden.”


If teachers are found to have broken the rule, they will face sanctions.


Carlos Castillo – Principal ESTM


“Sanctions will be taken if they need to be taken as I said the investigation is just beginning and when it is finalized as Mr. Lopez from the Ministry of Education said there will be press release.”


While the investigation is ongoing, family members of both the deceased are demanding answers.  Today we spoke to the parents of both victims who were inconsolable and still in shock.


Ayoni Witz– Zepeda’s Mother


“Ese dia ella salio y todo como las cuatro de la mañana. Yo estaba sentada acá en mi casa esperando que ella legue porque ella quedo que como las cuatro ella ya iba a regresar pero dio las cuatro y ella no lego. Yo estaba ansiosa porque ella me dijo que iba a legar esa hora. Vino su hermanita de ella y yo la note algo rara y me dijo mami es cierto, es cierto que yo le dije. Y luego ella me dijo que Anahi murió? Yo le dije, no me vengas a decir eso. Y ella me dice si mami me lo acaban de decir. Yo le pedi que llame a Anahi porque ella siempre anda su celular. La lamaron, le madamos text y nada no contestaba. Hasta que lamamos a una de sus amigas y le preguntamos que si Anahi estaba con ella y nos colgaba. La lamamos de nuevo y no nos quería decir que paso con Anahi hasta que se animó y nos dio que Anahi tuvo un accidenté. Ese rato le preguntamos qué accidenté y ese rato se escuchó cuando ella le dijo al maestro “dígale la verdad. El maestro no quiso responder me colgó el celular.”


According to Witz, a few minutes later she received a text telling her to call school, when she did no one answered. It was around 8:30pm that the death of her daughter was confirmed to her.


Ayoni Witz- Zepeda’s Mother


“Llegaron como las 8:30 para las nueve de la noche y no tenían ni palabras para decirme que fue lo que paso. Le pregunte al vice principal y él me dijo que hasta ahorita ni los maestros no saben que fue lo que paso. Ella me trajo un papel adonde se está dando permiso para ir al trip, ella no me dijo si iban a firmar para ir a bañar. Ella me dijo mami dijo el maestro que si salimos temprano vamos a ir a bañar. Yo le dije hija como van a ir a bañar si no se está diciendo nada. Ella luego me dijo que no cree que vaya a hacer posible porque van a salir tarde. Ahora me dicen que si entraron a bañar y yo no firme para que ella entre en el agua yo no sé si ese permiso estaba con el mismo papel. Yo solo firme para ir al trip y el papel tenia a qué horas se iban a ir y a qué horas iban a regresar.”


While Witz has received no explanation from teachers as to what exactly happened on Friday, the mother of Edgar Puck was visited by four teachers on Saturday. They relayed to her what transpired on that dreadful Friday afternoon.

 

Erminia Puck, Mother of Edgar


“Como medio día vinieron cuatro maestros y me estaban diciendo que ellos no tienen palabras como decirme como paso eso porque dicen ellos que en ocho minutos sucedió todo se murió la muchacha y se murió el. Ellos lo que vieron dicen es que primero la muchacha se metió al agua y luego mi hijo se metió. Ellos dicen que el agua no estaba hondo solo les legaba hasta la cintura y ellos empezaron a jugar en el agua entre ellos dos. Dicen ellos que mi hijo ya estaba saliendo del agua cuando el voltio a ver vio que la muchacha ya se estaba ahogando y la corriente la estaba llevando. Eso fue cuando el decidió tirarse al agua para salvarla pero no pudo.”


Benjamin Puck- Father of Edgar


“I don’t need a diploma I need the presence of my son that is the only thing that will make me feel good.”

 

Erminia Puck, Mother of Edgar


“Él siempre me decía mami el día que yo me gradué yo voy a hacer que ustedes se parren orgullosos de mi porque yo voy a dar el valedictorian.”


Both students were laid to rest on Sunday in their respective villages. Of note is that on the day of the incident, Puck’s body was the first to be recovered.  Zepeda’s body was retrieved a short while after further down the river. Both were taken to the San Ignacio Community Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival.

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