Spate of Hol­i­day Drown­ings -Re­newed Calls for Life­guards

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -


This year alone, four peo­ple have drowned at our lo­cal beaches. Fol­low­ing the most re­cent drown­ing on Sun­day, there have been re­newed calls for greater vig­i­lance on our beaches. In­creas­ingly peo­ple hav­ing been plead­ing with the gov­ern­ment to take se­ri­ously the spate of drown­ings. Among those lead­ing the charge are mem­bers of the Saint Lu­cia Life Sav­ing As­so­ci­a­tion who are call­ing for “a sus­tained pro­gram of public aware­ness on wa­ter safety” in gen­eral. Mean­while, Saint Lu­cians and vis­i­tors con­tinue to flock to popular beaches like Vigie Beach, Sandy Beach, Sab­wisha, Roseau, Cas En Bas, Re­duit and Pi­geon Point with no signs of life­guards or even warn­ing signs. Only the omi­nously in­vis­i­ble warn­ing: “swim at your own peril”.

The above is taken from a STAR News­pa­per ar­ti­cle pub­lished in Au­gust 2014 writ­ten by Toni Ni­cholas. As far back as the 80s this News­pa­per has been on a re­lent­less cru­sade for greater safety at public beaches on an is­land sur­rounded by wa­ter and where more than half of the pop­u­la­tion can­not swim.

Dur­ing last week­end’s long In­de­pen­dence hol­i­day week­end four more lives were lost by drown­ing. Among them, 36-year-old Mervin Dar­cie of Barre De­nis who, along with brother Kervin, went swim­ming at La Toc beach on Mon­day Fe­bru­ary 23. On Wed­nes­day, Fe­bru­ary 25, his life­less body was found 300 yards off the coast of La Toc Beach. The Po­lice Marine Unit is con­tin­u­ing its search ef­forts for the body of Kervin Dar­cie.

On that same Mon­day, Mandy Joseph made a re­port of a miss­ing per­son at the Anse La Raye Po­lice Sta­tion. Joseph stated that her 16-year-old son, Miguel Sealy of Massacre, Anse La Raye, left his res­i­dence ear­lier that day about 3 p.m. to spend some time with a fam­ily mem­ber on the Massacre Beach, Anse La Raye and up to the time of re­port had not been seen. On Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 24, 2015 at about 12:45 p.m. the life­less body of Miguel Sealy was dis­cov­ered in the wa­ters of Anse La Raye by the Po­lice Marine Unit.

Also los­ing his life at sea was a four-year-old boy at Vieux Fort with a sto­ry­line that con­tin­ues to puz­zle many. On Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 22, 2015 while thou­sands cel­e­brated In­de­pen­dence Day around the is­land, of­fi­cers at­tached to the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Vieux Fort Po­lice Sta­tion re­sponded to a re­port of sus­pect drown­ing at Bois Shadon Beach, Bean­field Vieux Fort, at about 2 p.m. It was later re­vealed that Ter­rel Joshua Eli­box of Augier, Vieux Fort was given a ride by a kite surfer. Whilst rid­ing, he is al­leged to have fallen into the sea and sub­merged. A search and res­cue mission was im­me­di­ately con­ducted by Po­lice at the time but the body was not re­cov­ered.

How­ever, on Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 24 at about 6 a.m. the life­less body of Eli­box was found on the Co­conut Bay Beach, Vieux Fort.

There have been con­flict­ing re­ports, how­ever, as to what hap­pened that day to Eli­box who was said to have been at a beach pic­nic with his grand­mother and other rel­a­tives and friends. There are also re­ports that the kite-surfer, a Canadian who was taken into cus­tody for ques­tion­ing, had at­tempted to come to the aid of the child whom he al­legedly wit­nessed caught up in the strong waves at the beach.

And while in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­tin­u­ing, the lack of pro­vi­sion of life­guards at popular beaches re­mains a con­tentious mat­ter.

A state­ment from the St. Lu­cia Life Sav­ing As­so­ci­a­tion fol­low­ing the week­end tragedies re­it­er­ates the im­por­tance of public aware­ness on wa­ter safety, swim­ming lessons for both chil­dren and adults, and the need to have life­guards to su­per­vise aquatic ac­tiv­i­ties at popular beaches.

“As an As­so­ci­a­tion we are aware that all drown­ings can­not be pre­vented. We are cer­tain, how­ever, that many of the drown­ing ac­ci­dents that do take place are pre­ventable and that we can be bet­ter pre­pared to act in the case of an emer­gency,” the state­ment reads; fur­ther, that “the is­sue of wa­ter safety is one of public safety and com­mu­ni­ties must seek in­for­ma­tion on how to re­duce drown­ing ac­ci­dents.”

The state­ment signed by pres­i­dent Ger­main An­thony went on to say,“Par­ents must pro­tect their chil­dren by en­sur­ing that they learn to swim the proper way. They must also be vig­i­lant and su­per­vise their chil­dren when near wa­ter. The au­thor­i­ties must seek strate­gies and im­ple­ment mea­sures that will pro­tect pa­trons at the beach.”

In light of re­cent drown­ings the St. Lu­cia Life Sav­ing As­so­ci­a­tion calls for greater em­pha­sis to be placed on public aware­ness on wa­ter safety, swim­ming lessons for both chil­dren and adults, and the need to have life­guards to su­per­vise aquatic

ac­tiv­i­ties at popular beaches.

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