PORT OF SPAIN – The Hiking Association of Trinidad and Tobago (HATT) has expelled hiking group, Fitness Walkers/Island Hikers from its organisation following a series of failed attempts by the group submit a plan of action for a hike management system to the Association.
Richard Baird, who was a participant in the hiking group fell to his death on August 19, along the Hollis Falls trail in Aripo.
He was found several days after. An autopsy performed confirmed Baird suffered a broken neck after falling into a 600 foot precipice.
The decision to expel the hiking group was finalised on Tuesday.
In a release from the Association, the Board of Directors said it met with the main figure of the hiking group, Mario Russell to discuss the circumstances surrounding Baird death.
“Based on those discussions, the Directors of HATT had agreed that this hiking group disregarded certain fundamental safe hike management practices and viewed those transgressions as inconsistent with the goals and objectives of HATT. As such, the Directors of HATT had agreed to suspend the Island Hikers/ Fitness Walkers’ membership from HATT, effective Monday 4th September 2017, pending the implementation of actions to reform its hike management practices,” is stated.
According to HATT, Island Hikers/Fitness Walkers did not adhere to the submission of its plan of action. Additional deadlines were given and the hiking group did not respond.
The HATT also took a decision to revoke the hiking group’s membership and remove Russell from its board of directors.
“The Board of Directors then decided on September 22nd to invoke Article 7.10 of HATT’s constitution, calling on Island Hikers/Fitness Walkers to resign its membership of HATT within twenty-eight days (28) or face expulsion.”
“The deadline for submission of Island Hiker/Fitness Walkers’ resignation was Friday October 20th 2017. Therefore, by special majority of the Board of Members and in accordance with Article 7.10 of HATT’s constitution, the membership of Island Hikers/ Fitness Walkers in HATT is now revoked and Mr. Mario Russell, as a consequence, is now removed as a Director of HATT. Mr. Mario Russell has been informed of HATT’s final decision in correspondence dated November 14th 2017,” it stated.
Responding to this expulsion, Russell said the Association has the right to do whatever they deem it necessary.
However, the hiking group will continue taking hikers through various trails.
Speaking to the Express, Russell said: “They have the right to do that but Island Hikers will continue to hike and ensure the safety of others.”
When asked about submitting the requested information to the Association, Russell said: “we choose not to respond and the action that they took, they have the right to do what they feel is necessary. We intend to continue hiking and ensure the safety of everybody as we have been doing for the past ten years,” he said.