Sunday, June 23, 2024

Jamaicans who drifted ashore on Ambergris Caye are back home safe


Three Jamaican nationals, 50-year-old Noel Samuels, 23-year-old Romeo Lewis and 44-year-old Karma Beckford are happy to be back home after being lost at sea, drifting 25 days until arriving at the shores of Ambergris Caye. The trio went out fishing off the west coast of Jamaica on June 23rd, and after their boat developed a fault, they helplessly drifted away. They arrived on the northern coast of Ambergris Caye on July 19th and it was until July 26th, when they were finally transported to Belmopan City, where the Jamaican Honorary Consul made arrangements for their return back home.

(l-r) Noel Samuels, 50, Karma Beckford 44, and Romeo Lewis, 23

Unknown to them that they had arrived in Belize, on the first day they were taken to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II where each one of them received up to eight bags of IV drips. They were severely dehydrated after having consumed sea water in the middle of their ordeal out at sea. Out of the 25 days lost at sea, they were able to get water from two-days of rain, which kept them hydrated for a bit. Their boat was taken to a boatyard south of San Pedro Town. According to Samuels, after being released from the hospital, they spent the night locked up in a prison cell at the San Pedro Police Station. They say this was quite a horrific and disappointing ordeal, as they did not wishfully end up in Belize, and were at no time breaking any laws.

The following day, Samuels, Lewis and Beckford, were taken out of the cell thanks to a member of Belize Immigration Department who took them to the International Boat Terminal, located by the lagoon behind the Honourable Louis Sylvestre Sporting Complex. They spent several days in the terminal, under guard and at the mercy of several island residents who assisted them with food and clothing. Their families back in Jamaica were thinking the worse, but after they were able to get in touch with them, a sense of peace gave them hopes to carry on. After a few days of waiting for news on their arrangements to get back home, they were transported to Belmopan, where according to Samuels, they were treated well. They had the opportunity to visit a couple places in the Cayo District, while they waited for their temporary travel documents. With the assistance of their family, Samuels and Beckford purchased their plane tickets, while Lewis had difficulty getting his and had to be assisted by the Consul. Finally, on Friday, August 3rd they managed to make their trip back home, flying from Belize City to Panama where they spent the night. The following day before midday, they landed in Kingston, Jamaica, where family and friends eagerly awaited for their arrival.

In a phone conversation with Samuels, he told The San Pedro Sun that he was happy to be back home and that despite the initial hurdles they had in Belize, they have only good things to share about the country and Belizeans. “Some of my friends have been asking me about Belize and I tell them that it is a beautiful country and that we have good memories about it,” he said. “I tell them that if I ever get some money for vacations I will for sure come back and visit Belize,” He says that he has been in touch with some of the persons he met on the island, thanking them for their assistance. However, when it comes to fishing, he is taking a break for a while. Beckford is said to be returning to the sea to fish as that is his daily job. As for Lewis, he shared that he will never again step into a boat or go into the sea. They all, however, thank God for having kept them alive, they believe he was the fourth man in the boat guiding them to a safe mooring on Ambergris Caye.

While their boat remains on the island, Samuels hopes it can be sold. He says he is just happy to once again be reunited with his wife and children.

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