Monday, July 15, 2024

Local authorities to encourage water safety signs following fatal boating accident


Following the tragic boating accident on February 14th, which took the life of 17-year-old American teenage tourist Logan Ceylon Pratt, authorities in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, are planning to enforce safety water measures to avoid future tragedies.
Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez lamented the incident and said that along with the Belize Tourism Board, they are advising stakeholders on safety measures for their guests. According to him, hoteliers and other stakeholders with beachfront properties and docks will be required to place or erect signs warning not to swim beyond specific points from the shore or dock. He said that with proper signage, tourists and island residents could be better informed when swimming off the beach or docks. This safety measure was implemented in the past but has reportedly relaxed over the years. The San Pedro Town Council plans to follow up and ensure people are better advised about their surroundings.
Pratt and her mother were reportedly swimming through an active boat lane. Swimming off the northern beaches is considered by many as tempting as the second-longest barrier reef is closer to the shore. Many like to attempt swimming toward it for either fishing or snorkeling. This can be very dangerous. Speaking with some tour operators on the island, they urge people to make themselves visible when swimming into areas frequented by boats for any given reason. One of the suggestions includes being in a kayak, using a buoy, or even using towing a flag. A tour operator weighing on the matter said that applying any of these suggestions will increase the chances of being seen by a boat captain. Some boat captains also shared that when they see someone swimming near the reef with a kayak or buoy, they slow down and go around to avoid accidents.
The official report states that Pratt and her mother were swimming in the sea off the northern coast of Ambergris Caye when a boat operated by local tour guide Jesse Smith ran over her. The boat collision left her with severe injuries causing her death. The San Pedro Police Formation detained Smith as an investigation started. After overnight detention, Smith was released without charges.

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