An early afternoon tragedy at sea has ruined a family reunion in “paradise” for a British family.
All police would say so far is that the deceased is a 29-year-old British male, who arrived on the island just Wednesday and died following a jet ski collision off Welches Beach in Christ Church around 2:30 p.m Thursday.
However, Barbados TODAY has learnt that the collision was with a jet ski operated by another family member.
Up to late Thursday evening, police were still withholding the name of the victim. Relatives were equally tightlipped on the incident, since the victim’s mother was reportedly en route to Barbados, unaware of all that had gone wrong. She will therefore be greeted on arrival with the tragic news.
Thursday evening a team from Barbados TODAY was in time to see police and tourism officials visiting with the family at Elcourt Clinic in Maxwell, Christ Church where the victim was pronounced dead on arrival.
It was around 6 p.m. when two distraught looking family members exited the clinic in the company of the general manager of their south coast hotel. One relative, believed to the cousin of the victim, was still shirtless and wearing beach shorts. The other, an older woman who wore locks, appeared to be in shock. It therefore fell to General Manager of the Butterfly Hotel to communicate to Barbados TODAY the family’s request for privacy at this difficult time.
With the incident still under police investigation, the owner of the jet skis involved in today’s incident was also present at the Elcourt Clinic this evening. However, businessman Ricardo Clarke was also tightlipped about the incident.
Nonetheless, Thursday’s tragedy has re-opened old wounds surrounding the operations of the popular water craft, with one local boat operator voicing strong concern about the unregulated use of jet skis by visitors.
Without commenting on Thursday’s fatal accident, he bitterly complained that “these people come to the island and have no licence to operate any jet skis and almost hit boats daily”.
The operator, who did not want to be identified, argued that the same way the owners and operators were required to have a licence to operate, the same should apply to tourists.
“You need to have a licence,” he stressed, warning that the situation was “almost like that which we currently have on the roads with the motorcycles, where you see a group of people with jet skis go out and do foolishness”.
“We need more regulation of jet skis,” he insisted.
Another boat owner told Barbados TODAY of a recent incident in which the operator of his dingy had to “jump off the boat to save his own life” after his engine was knocked off by a jet ski operator.
He also recalled another incident in which a guest at a local hotel was hit by a jet ski, but the operator did not stop. He is therefore supporting calls for stricter enforcement of jet skis.
He said he was aware of instances in which tourists came on the beach drunk and picked up jet skis, putting everyone’s lives at risk.
As part of the proposed crackdown the boat owner suggests that there should be a mechanism to ensure that operators are sober and that tourists take out liability insurance before taking up these vessels.
“If you want to operate one, you need to be responsible,” he said, adding that the flip side to this was the possibility that more persons could be killed.