The jet ski which vanished along with two American tourists on Monday was in “excellent” working condition when it was rented to Oscar Suarez and his partner Magdalena Devil, says small craft owner, Artneal Abbey.
But Abbey, a West Coast water sports operator with almost 30 years’ experience, revealed the vessel which has been lost for over four days only had enough fuel to last two hours.
Breaking his silence for the first time since the two New Jersey residents went missing, Abbey told Barbados TODAY he was baffled by the development and was not coping well.
“People are asking me if I’m going to get back a jet ski but the truth is that I don’t care about that jet ski right now. If he had gone out and hit my jet ski on a coral reef I would have been pissed off, but realistically I can’t study the jet ski knowing that two people could have possibly lost their lives. I am just hoping those two people could be found alive.
“I am just hoping they find somebody so the families could have some closure. I need some closure too,” the 45-year-old admitted.
Abbey said he met with the family of the two missing Americans at the Holetown, St James beach on Friday, where he gave them the details leading up to their disappearance.
He said the meeting was cordial and none of the family members blamed him for what had transpired.
Abbey recalled that both visitors were wearing lifejackets and his 2016 Yamaha VX deluxe jet ski was working well. Adding to the mystery was the fact that his blue and white small craft is easily recognizable from a distance.
While acknowledging factors like speed, acceleration and weight would ultimately determine how long the vessel’s petrol lasts, Abbey said the vessel could run approximately two hours based on the amount of fuel in the tank.
“He had ample gas, I would say about two hours of gas if he was riding steadily, but he was riding for 30 minutes so there was no reason for me to refill it,” said the operator.
The two visitors were Abbey’s first customers for the afternoon and according to him, Oscar approached him and the couple seemed to be in a “good” mood. He further recalled Magdalena, “the quieter one”, was carrying a cellular phone in a waterproof case around her neck.
“I asked him [Oscar] if he rode jet skis before and he told me yes, but I still showed him the procedures and he left the beach in a stable manner that would indicate he’s ridden before.”
Abbey recorded a 3:34 p.m. departure and said after a few minutes of idling near the beach, the couple left the cove at “full speed” heading south.
He said the couple had not been seen since.
“I can’t say exactly what happened, but I was focusing on the jet ski at the point in time and I saw it when it went out of sight, but as I called people trying to locate the jet ski afterward, it was like a mystery because nobody saw it,” the veteran operator said.
After contacting operators in Paynes Bay, Sandy Lane and Fitz Village and coming up empty, Abbey said he went directly to the Holetown Police Station.