Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum
transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast
are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers,
we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English
The Easter Weekend was relatively peaceful, especially in Belize City, but 3 persons did lose their lives due to accidents, there are two possible homicides, and 1 Belizean was killed in Melchor.
We start tonight's newscast with the death of 5 year-old Akeelah Wade, which happened on Holy Saturday at around 4:00 pm. She was on the front of a scooter which slammed into a Belize City Shuttle Bus at the intersection of Douglas Jones and North Front Streets. Little Akeelah was one of the 3 persons who were on the scooter, and they were all rushed to the KHMH after the accident.
She died 2 hours later while undergoing treatment, turning the holiday into a time of mourning for her family.
Today, 7News spoke with her parents, and they told us what they know of the accident which killed her:
Cynthia Morgan - Meighan - Adapted Mother of Deceased "They were coming from Princess pool on their way home and my daughter Vishana Carcamo with Akeelah in front of her and my other daughter Kelsey Peyrefitte was at the back and on their way approaching corner Douglas Jones and North Front Streets that was where the accident happened. A brown metro was coming from North Front Street straight across and my daughter-in-law was coming from Douglas Jones Street heading to BelChina. More or less you can put together what happen from there."
Daniel Ortiz "Did the driver or your daughter at the back explain what happen just before the accident took place?"
Cynthia Morgan - Meighan "The driver no, but my daughter told me when I came to the hospital and I ask her what happen and she says that she doesn't know. She says that she was at the back of the cycle and I got a text on my phone and she look at the text and by the time she lift up back her head and she knows is that a brown bus was in front of us crashing into it."
Daniel Ortiz "So the driver herself hasn't been able to tell what happened?"
Cynthia Morgan - Meighan "No, the way that I see it is that she doesn't remember and I tried to ask her and on one point I don't want to stress her because she has injuries and it's not for me to stress on her concerning the situation because it's not something that she had intentionally meant to happen. It was an accident. Talking about the stress is not something very easy to go through. Akeelah is my baby. I am not Akeelah biological mother, but I am her mother on this earth and I want to give a special thank you to her mom that gave Akeelah to me to give and provide a wonderful home for Akeelah. We will miss Akeelah so very dearly because Akeelah was a very jovial, warm-spirited, she gave smile on everybody come in contact with her. On earth we might say that Akeelah life has been cut short, but honestly being a God's child, my baby had served her time that God had plan for her."
The driver of the motorcycle is still receiving treatment at the KHMH. At this time, police continue to investigate the cause of the accident.
Much the same fate could have faced a two-year-old girl who was knocked down in Orange Walk on Thursday. She got hit by a pickup owned by Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega's driver.
Rachel Chan was walking across a street in Trial Farm village to meet her father when a Ford F-150 pickup truck being driven by a 14 year old knocked her down. The toddler received serious injuries and had to be rushed first to the Northern Regional Hospital, and then to the KHMH for emergency surgery. She had injuries to her spleen, intestine and head and was listed in a critical condition. But, after surgery, she has shown steady progress and is now in a stable condition and walking.
As for the 14 year old who was behind the wheel, he will face four charges: driving without due care and attention, negligent grievous harm, driving without a driver's license and failed to report an accident. The owner of the vehicle, who is the Deputy Prime Minister's driver, Chris Hendricks will also be served with a summons for letting the minor drive his vehicle. When we called Hendricks today, he declined comment saying he didn't know about any summons.
And why did he have a 14 year old driving his heavy duty pickup? It seems the teenager had been cleaning Hendricks's yard and came across a good deal of firewood. That's what the teenager's mother uses, so he piled them up into the truck and was taking it to her house when he knocked down the child. Police believe that Hendricks knowingly let the teenager drive his pickup.
When residents of Boston Village found 68 year-old Myra Miller inside her house on Friday evening, she was clinging to life. Her house showed signs of being searched, and based on what they found, the villagers believe that she was attacked while inside her home by an intruder who was trying to steal from her.
She died on Sunday while at the KHMH, and though police continue to investigate the burglary angle, those who found her are convinced that the case needs to be treated as a murder. Yesterday, Daniel Ortiz went to the village, and spoke with residents:
Inside the house of 68 year-old Myra Miller looked like someone had been looking for something - what is still unknown, but her personal belongings and clothes had been strewn everywhere.
Daniel Ortiz reporting
Investigators will have to determine whether or not the condition of her home is somehow connected to her death, but the villagers who found her believe that it was either ransacked or caused by a struggle.
They found Mrs. Miller on the ground; she was barely alive. She was reportedly trying to explain to them that a man broke in and assaulted her.
Sony Cortez - Chairman, Boston Village "The neighbor to the back came around and heard my dad knocking on the door and shouting. The young man asks 'what's the problem?' and my father told him that Ms. Miller is at home because the padlock is not on the door, she is inside, something is wrong - can you go around and see if you notice anything?"
"The young man went and said yes, there is a window here busted. My dad went in and saw Ms. Miller on the ground. He then shouted for me to come because we need the police or the ambulance now because Ms. Miller is on the ground. And I'm like what - because on a previous occasion she has fainted because she is diabetic. When I went in with a flash light and I notice, I said but she didn't faint. On her head back, it look like she was hit with a piece of board. On the ground there was a piece of board next to the body which you could see that that same board was used to apply the hit on the back of the head."
Reporter "Did it had blood on it?"
Sony Cortez - Chairman, Boston Village "No blood, because she was already on the ground. You could see that there was a struggle because when we lifted up the lady her face was swollen, the forehead had a gash and the nose was... - you could see that there was a struggle. If you would faint, you would just drop and that's it, but if you are bruised up - because there was a gash from her arm to nearly across the breast. My dad ask her on the ground 'miss Miller, who did this to you?' and she said the man three times. That's all we got out of her in speech."
Today, we checked with the Assistant Superintendent Chris Noble, the Rural Executive Officer, who's in charge of the investigation, he told us that police are investigating all angles, including the possibility of foul play. When we asked about any evidence of physical injury, he told us that the post mortem will have to be conducted to confirm if there were indeed signs of violence.
And, so, while Belize Rural police cannot say definitively if foul play is involved in that death - Corozal police are leaning clearly to homicide after the grisly discovery of a nude female body in a pond near Chan Chen village. The body appears to have a large chop wound to the back of the head and her right hand seems as if it was severed. But her identity is a mystery since no one has been reported missing in either Chan Chen or Pachakan which are the two nearest villages.
Due to the advanced state of decomposition, a post mortem will have to be done on-site tomorrow.
Chan Chen is the northern most village in Belize and the body was found about a mile from there.
Last week, we told you about 19 year-old George McKenzie Jr., the son of slain street figure, George "Junie Balls", who was suddenly charged and then not charged for murder.
As we reported, investigators took him to the Magistrate's Court to be arraigned for the murder of 57 year-old Alfonso Cruz, who was killed on April 12 in Rhaburn's Alley.
They had a signed witness statement and a positive identification from a man who reportedly had the gun pointed at him moments before Cruz was murdered.
Now, murder is a capital offense for which there is no bail, and so when his mother realized what was about to happen, she sought the intercession of senior police officers. Those officers were eventually able to get their hands on a copy of surveillance camera footage which showed that McKenzie was in a Chinese restaurant at the time of the murder.
Nevertheless, he spent the entire Easter weekend in lock down, and it was not until today, when the case was brought back before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, that the Prosecution formally withdrew the charge.
Of course, his family is furious with police. Today after the court hearing, his mother told the media that this was the latest attempt by key police officers to target McKenzie Jr:
Melissa Major - Mother of George McKenzie Jr. Wednesday morning at 10am I was at home and the police came by and ask me where my son was George McKenzie Jr., I told them that he had just took a bath and took a walk down the street. They saw him walking down the street and they went and arrest him. When they came to me they said that they want him for a shooting. When I went to the station I got information that they have him for PI murder. I ask about which information and what murder about whom he kill and stuff like that. I spoke with Officer Cawich at CIB and he told me that there is file that went to the DPP and they are awaiting a request from the DPP as to what they will do. After that they said that they will get back to me. They took down my number but they never did call me."
"About minutes after 12 my son calls and told me that they had just charged me for murder. By the time I went back there they had already gone. But before that I told them that my son was at Chon Saan and they had him on camera, but they (the police) didn't want to see the camera. When I saw my son I ask him if he had told them where he was and if he had told them about the camera and thing and he said yes and Mr. Cawich told him that he didn't need to see the camera because he already had a statement that he (my son) did the murder."
"I think they are harassing my son just because of his name that he carries, George McKenzie. I had already done a human interest story concerning these same police officers. One set of police officers harassing my son and this same police office have a big role to play in this case. And like I told them that yes this is "Junie Balls" child, George McKenzie Jr., but he is not "Junie Balls," he is someone totally different. Not because his father did this and that that's means that he has to take the licking for his father. His father is already dead and gone; whatever he was supposed to do leave it for God for God to be his judge. Don't judge my son on earth because he carries his father name; It's totally two different people."
George McKenzie Jr. is a student of Maud Williams High.
The 86th. Cross Country, would a Belizean win it? Would the cycling gods be so kind? Well, looking at it statistically, probably not, considering that Belizean riders won in 2012 and 2013. But, in the heart and mind of even the casual cycling fan - if he or she is a patriot - a Belizean just had to win it! Except this year they didn't. Defending Champion Darnell Barrow had high hopes on his shoulders, as did National Road Champion Byron Pope. But hope can only go so far on the highway when 22 top foreign cyclists are trying to snipe at the crown jewel of Belizean sport. Here's how it played out on the road:..
Jules Vasquez reporting
This year sign-in and bike check for the 109 riders in the 86TH Holy Saturday Cycling Classic started from 4:00 am, in front of the BTL Park.
his year, the cyclists wore a black bow in memory of Ernest Dangalang Thurton and by extension all fallen members of the cycling family.
Defending champion Darnell Barrow and National Road Champion of Belize Byron Pope took their positions at the front of the lineup.
And at 5:50 - they were off - the defending champion on his phone - for the ceremonial ride, called a lead-out - which would take them through the city. The red flag denotes to the riders that the race has not started yet.
It was a chance for the riders to ease their nerves - something like a soft start to the day - and a chance for the fans to see the cyclists not at race speed.
At Leslie's Imports, the white line marks the official start - a flying start as they call it - and they're off. First to make a significant move near CISCO was the 2012 champion Giovanni Choto of C-Ray Road Addicts.
With fresh legs, he set a blistering pace, over 25 miles an hour - alone at the front. Behind him, everyone else - 11 Mexicans, 7 Americans, 2 Guatemalans, 1 Jamaican American, and 1 Spaniard - a total of 22 foreign riders and 87 Belizeans, for the 109 riders each with a garland hope however faint.
They were not chasing, knowing that they had over 130 miles still to go. For Choto he knew that in 2012, he ran for 133 miles - not all of it solo - but enough to give him confidence this year.
At Hattieville, Giovanni Choto still flying solo easily takes the station prize. And just about a minute later, there's the chase, the pace accelerated now, and whipping past our camera with a collective roar.
As we approach Rockville, the first major chase group is formed, it features Giovanni's brother Raphael Choto, David Henderson Jr. Florencio Ramos and Jaun Pablo Magallanes.
At Rockville Giovanni Choto still enjoys a 48 second lead, but the chase group of four are now closing in. By the time we reach mile 25, Giovanni Choto has been caught, so the breakaway is now five riders heading into a cross wind.
While flag bearing fans tried to keep up with them. At mile 36, it's Giovanni and Rafael Choto of C-RAY, David Henderson Jr. and Juan Pablo Magallanes of Benny's Megabytes and Florencio Ramos of team Predators Belize and then there is the main bunch of riders led by American Scotty Weiss - still keeping it together.
Heading into Belmopan, David Henderson sprints for the prize at Guanacaste. When we catch up with the leaders again near dead man curve at mile 56, they are only two - a pair of Mexicans who have separated themselves, Juan Pablo Magallenes and Florencio Ramos.
The pair are familiar with the race: Magallenes finished second last year riding for Benny's and Ramos rode for C-Ray last year, famously dropping out of the breakaway for Brandon Cattouse.
Some two minutes back there is a 13 man chase group that includes Joel Borland, Giovanni Choto, Chris Harkey, Hector Hugo Rangel, Quinton Hamilton, David Henderson Jr, David Santos, Richard Santiago, Alejandro Miranda, and AJ Meyers.
At Mount Hope, the leaders are well ahead; Florencio Ramos takes the prize while the chase group is being led by two-time champion Chris Harkey.
At Central Farm, Magallanes takes the prize. But the two are definitely working together. At the halfway point in San Ignacio, the fans have been lined up for hours to see this, the first two figures over the bridge, not quite what they might have hoped for - the two Mexicans, but the leaders nonetheless.
All those lined up in the town center, would wait another two and a half minutes to see team Telemedia's Joel Borland come across the bridge, followed by 12 riders making the turnaround Columbus Park to the sound of noisemakers, cheering and applause.
It would be another three minutes before the main bunch wound around the park, a symphony of colour and noise. When we catch back up with the leaders, they are at Brick Wall, rounding the corner all alone, hardly labouring and making light work of the incline.
The chase group that was 12 is now down to 6 - and the missing 6 are all Belizeans. Those still there are Chris Harkey, Hector Hugo Rangel, the Miranda Brothers, AJ Meyers and David Santos. Some two minutes behind the closes Belizeans are Richard Santiago, Joel Borland, Giovanni Choto and Quinton Hamilton.
At Guanacaste Park, the two Mexican leaders don't even have to fight for the station prize, but now the chase group of 6 is closing in - again, all foreign riders.
Around mile 40, on a rain slicked road, the two leaders are showing signs of fatigue - stretching their backs - but still keeping on the pace.
By the time the race reaches around mile 31, the two leaders have been caught, and now another Mexican riding for Benny's Megabytes, Hector Hugo Rangel has embarked on a solo flight. If you are wondering who he is, the last time he was here was the Cross Country of 2010 when riding for Team Santino's, he attempted to pace Gregory Lovell from mile 35 to the finish line. He failed that time, but on this Holy Saturday, unaccompanied and out front, he was hoping for a different outcome.
With over a hundred miles on him, Rangel bathed himself and still looked fresh and had boosted himself into a comfortable lead over the five all foreign chasers.
Rangel at this time is being pursued by Alejandro Miranda, Florencio Ramos, David Santos, and sitting in, Magallanes. In the meantime, Hector Hugo Rangel drives on - showing fatigue now, and only 37 seconds ahead of the nearest chase - but five thousand dollars richer after claiming the prize at RJB Construction.
And by mile 7, they have him in their crosshairs, the once distant figure on the horizon now being closed in by the chase, after about 30 miles of running.
Heading into the Burdon Canal Bridge, Rangel falls to the back and Magallanes is back at the front, on the pace.
Around Old Belize Magallanes attacks, and only Ramos and Miranda can hang on while Rangel and Santos got dropped.
Heading into the City, passing Leslie's Imports it is two Mexicans and a Guatemalan. They stayed together coming into the city - to the sight of disappointed fans who lined the streets.
They three stayed together heading into Freetown Road but near ITVET - they were caught by Rangel and Santos - at the finish line, those five sprinted for it, and Juan Pablo Magallanes of Team Benny's Megabytes came out as the winner of the 86th Cross Country followed by four foreign riders Alejandro Miranda, Ramos, Rangel and Santos.
And then 40 seconds later, two more foreigners Julio Miranda, Scottie Weiss and finally the first Belizean finished eighth Marlon Castillo for team Telemedia.
Though a Mexican won, he rode for a Belizean team - one which finally can claim a garland.
Perry Gibson, Manager - Team Megabytes "That we were able to win means everything to us. In the end the most important thing is to win. This is the only race that we have not won since we have been in cycling and to finally get it means everything in the world."
Daniel Ortiz "Would you have preferred one of your Belizean riders to win?"
Perry Gibson, Manager - Team Megabytes "Two years ago we rode exclusively for Byron and we lost the race because of the way it played out. Today we weren't going to go down that road, Byron would have had to been there to have basically given the opportunity - he had to create his own opportunity, that's what I am saying and unfortunately it didn't play out that way."
Alejandro Padilla (Miranda), 2nd Place - Team SMART (Guat) "I don't like to talk bad about Belizeans; you guys have really good riders here. The problem they have is their mentality - they want to be taken to the finish and that won't happen in every and in any race. Wherever you go you have to ride. If you want to make it to the end you have to ride."
Greg Lovell, 10th - Team BTL "We just sit down and try to conserve our energy with the other guys that are capable of winning the race and what happen is the foreigners start to work really hard and went in the early breaks, really strong guys, high caliber cyclists that have the capability that can run the race the entire way going and coming back and we realize that we were in trouble when we reach Roaring Creek. The American team start to chase, but we realize that we were all in trouble. It was hard to close in the gap."
Alejandro Padilla (Miranda), 2nd Place - Team SMART (Guat) "We use to the race coming back. The race is won coming back but when you have that many guys going up the road with the legs to do it, you can't hesitate, you got to go."
Greg Lovell, 10th - Team BTL "What happen is that the managers of the other bigger teams they bring the foreigners to win because I know they don't have confidence in their Belizean cyclist that can win the race, so they want to match-up and when the other teams brings in good foreigners the other teams want to do the same so that they can have a level of competition in the race. Their goal is to win the race even it's not a Belizean. At the end of the day it's their team that won and that's what happens."
Juan Pablo Magallanes, 1st Place - Benny's Megabytes (Mex) "It's a country that has good riders, their shortfall is not going abroad to get a feel for the pace needed in international races. But they are very good riders here."
Magallanes won the $6,000 dollar first prize, and 3-time Cross country champion Kenrick Halliday presented him with the winner's garland of roses from Florasol. Magallanes also won eight trophies: from Digicell, the Elston Kerr Cup, the Jeffery O'brien family, the Altreith Smith family, Ludrick "Buno" Smith memorial, the Green family of Los Angeles, the Donald Matura family and the Norman Ashford Gillett trophy. He also won a $400 shopping spree at Mirage, a return ticket to the USA from United Airlines, a return ticket from Maya Island Air, a bull from Cuello's Distillery, a two night stay at Barrier Reef Lodge in San Pedro and a weekend's stay for two at Captain Morgan's Retreat in San Pedro, $250 from LC Distributors and an MP4 player from Go Wireless.
He finished the race in 5 hours 45 minutes, five minutes slower than the record pace set in 2009.
If you want just a little more cycling, stay tuned at the end of the news, when the second place finisher, Alejandro Padilla Miranda explains how the closing minutes played out as a cat and mouse game.
A Belizean was killed in Melchor over the Easter. 22 year old Benque Viejo Resident, Edwin Javier Chan was fatally shot either late on Friday night or early Saturday morning, reportedly at Auto Hotel in the Barrio Campito area of Melchor. 7News has confirmed that Chan had a gunshot wound to the left side of his head, most likely from a handgun. Interestingly, he had not been robbed of his jewelry or passport, only his phone was missing. Police confirm that he seemed to have been beaten up before he was killed. His body was returned to Belize on Saturday night and he was buried yesterday.
So, what led to his death? We do know that he left for Melchor at 4:30 pm on Friday night and was reportedly with friends. They say they left him there and returned to Benque Viejo. Interestingly, his passport has an exit stamp from Melchor dated Friday April 18th - the same day he entered at 4:30 pm. That suggests that on Friday night, he reached the Guatemalan side of the border - but did not make it to Belize. We know that because his passport had no re-entry stamp to Belize -suggesting that he was likely called back over to that side before he crossed back into Belize.
From that point no one seems to know what happened - but there are reports that shots were heard around 4:00 am on Saturday morning. Melchor is known to be dangerous and gun violence is common. Police on that side are dealing with the case, but based on experience, not much is expected to come out of it.
In October 2012, 23 year old Benqueno Miguel Gonzalez was killed in Melchor and no one has been arrested.
In other news out of Guatemala, the notorious Joseph Budna is a fugitive after he escaped from this hospital in Zacapa, Guatemala. Budna had been serving a 25 year sentence for kidnapping but was admitted to the hospital on April 11th . According to the Prensa Libre, Budna had an illness that causes bleeding all over the body. But, it seems Budna, who likes to pose as a healer, got well enough to escape the three prison guards who were put there to keep an eye on him. Budna had been serving time at the Los Jocotes prison in Zacapa until he was taken to the hospital in the same area.
He is still at large, but police in Peten have put out an all points bulletin for him.
Budna - who is a colourful character if ever there was one - also served time in Belize. After his release he was involved in many odd occurrences and then fashioned himself as a cross border fixer in Melchor. That led him to a kidnapping ring, where, it is alleged, he would mastermind the kidnapping of the children of wealthy persons.
Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie was involved in an ugly exchange with a drunken police officer in Crooked Tree on Saturday. It happened at the end of a day of horse racing, and the full details are tough to come by because there are so many different reports, many of them from persons who had been drinking. But best information suggests that Whylie publicly lectured a police constable who was drunk and disorderly, so much so that the constable fired his weapon while another policeman was trying to part a fight. Whylie reportedly lectured the constable - who then, reportedly, also disrespected the Compol. We tried to reach both the constable and the commissioner by cell phone for comment but none of them responded to our requests.
We know also that the Commissioner's brother in law was involved in the confrontation, but, again, there are widely varying reports.
A police special constable is facing criminal charges after he allegedly beat up two Chinese men in San Jose Village in the Orange Walk District on Thursday night.
The men, an uncle and a nephew operate a grocery store and it seems the special constable, Eldo Itza wanted to buy beer - but the store was closed. But he saw them cleaning up at the back door, and so he jumped the fence and started to beat owner's uncle. The owner, Ben Wong rushed to the store, and says that Itza hit him in the head with a beer pint. Wong had to get over 10 stitches for the massive wound on his head.
He made a report against Itza, but it seems the fraternal order of police are taking their own sweet time about charging him. Any regular civilian would have spent the weekend in lockdown, but today, Orange Walk police told us they were waiting for Itza to come and get his charges. We were told that they don't want to embarrass him by going to pick him up - and will only do so if they have to. He will be charged with aggravated assault and harm.
2 persons drowned over the Easter Weekend, one in Cayo, and one Stann Creek.
The first one happened on Friday at around midday where 37 year-old Arsenio Landero and his wife were traveling by canoe from Esperanza Village to Santa Familia. The canoe was unstable, and it overturned, dumping them both into the river. Landero didn't resurface, and an hour later, his body was retrieved by police.
The other one happened at around 2 p.m. on Saturday. 34 year-old Santos Del Cid Amaya, a resident of Bella Vista Village, was swimming in the Swasey River. He went under and didn't resurface. 2 hours later, police officers found his body in a section of the river, about 1 and a half miles behind Red Bank Village. He was pronounced dead on arrival.
This morning, Police busted 4 men with a gun believed to be stolen, and tonight, they are all on remand after being taken to court for it today.
According to Police they were mobile patrol at around 1:45 a.m., when they saw a grey SUV travelling on Caesar Ridge Road at high speed. They pursued the vehicle and caught it on Prince Street. Inside at the time were 21 year-old Kashief Gallego, 20 year-old Akeem Garcia, 18 year-old Ijaman Young, and 22 year-old Paris Williams. On the backseat of the vehicle, the officers found a black 9 millimeter pistol with 14 rounds of ammunition in the magazine.
A check of the weapon revealed that it was stolen from Herman Pastor Jr., so all 4 men were jointly charged with keeping an unlicensed firearm, keeping unlicensed ammunition, and handling stolen goods. They were all arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, where they pleaded not guilty, but they couldn't be offered bail. They were remanded until June 26.
21 year-old Lincoln Robinson Jr., a resident of Tigris Street, is at prison tonight because he allegedly tried to kill 21 year-old Anthony Young.
The incident happened on March 23; Young told police that he was socializing with some friends in a yard at #44 Dolphin Street when his assailant ambushed them from behind. According to Young, the man, who was wearing a red cap, looked at him for about 15 seconds, pulled out a firearm, and pointed it at him. He heard the gun go off, and that's when he tried to jump over the canal but fell into it. When he was climbing out, he heard 4 more shots, and felt his right ankle and left wrist burning, where he had been shot.
Police investigated for a month, and charged Robinson with attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm. He was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate who remanded him until March 23.
Thousands of Belizeans rushed to the cayes over the Easter weekend and most of them went on water taxi's. But, coming back nearly proved disastrous in Caye Caulker on Sunday evening at around 5:00, when hundreds of passengers queued up on the San Pedro Belize Express Pier to get on the boat back to the city. But the rickety wooden pier couldn't take the load and at about the half-way point, an entire of it collapsed - causing the waiting passengers to fall into the sea. Fortunately it was only a short distance down, and the water was shallow. No one was seriously hurt, passenger report receiving a few scratches and losing cellular phones.
San Pedro Belize express sent out a release today saying that their staffers, Port Authority and Coast Guard were present and asked passengers wait on the beach to ease the stress on the bridge. But the release says, quote, "this request was met with rebuttals as the crowds continued to move onto the bridge against the directives of the authorities resulting in a portion of the bridge buckling under the pressure." The release adds that the company is quote, "making every effort to fortify its ports and implement additional safety features to ensure this incident is not repeated."
The Commissioner of Ports Merlene Bailey Martinez says it is reviewing the accident, but has no sanctions planned at this time.
And while that is the treatment of the pier failure, there's no way to account for what happened after. As you can imagine, folks desperate to get off the island rushed over to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi pier. Not wanting to create another collapse police tried to enforce crowd control and that's when all kinds of pushing, shoving and fighting started to happen. There were fights between civilians and a fight involving police. That happened when police tried to restrain this man, Gregory Myers, who was identified to us as a former US Soldier. Island police got information that he was causing trouble on the pier - Gregory says he was trying to maintain order. Still, police tried to arrest him, which led to a struggle on the ground, where the officers ended up choking him as a means of restraint. Myers was charged with three counts of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
A young man from Camalote named Shane Parham almost died after he was stabbed three times in the neck this weekend. His family's concern tonight is for his health, but also because police appear to be in no rush to pick up the man who did it. It happened on Friday night and Parham was rushed to the hospital in time to save his life from a near fatal injury. His family reports that he is recovering and is in stable condition at the western Regional Hospital.
Police told us tonight that they have been unable to track down the accused, but did detain his younger brother today. Parham's family and friends however say that the perpetrator is walking around freely - and they claim he's doing that because of political connections. Police deny that account and say they have gone to his home several times to pick him up. They are confident that he will be arrested.
Over the Easter Holiday, rumours were raging on the social media that Transgender Vanessa Champagne Paris was assaulted, some even said killed, in Placencia. But police say they have nothing on record to reflect that alleged assault or any violent event involving her.
We spoke with Inspector Mark Flowers, the Officer Commanding of Placencia Police, who said that he received multiple phone calls that Paris had been stabbed and killed, and so he and his officers made exhaustive efforts to look into those reports. But, it turns out that they were was only just rumours.
So, we spoke to the Executive Director of UNIBAM, Caleb Orozco to find out if this incident did indeed occur. Orozco told us that he will have to go down to Placencia tomorrow to find eyewitnesses to present to police to prove that Paris was indeed assaulted. He said that Paris reported to them that 3 of the same men who assaulted the her on Vernon Street 2 weeks ago, were in Placencia and they attacked Paris once again.
We also challenged Orozco with our information from Flowers who tried to find out if this assault happened. Orozco said he accepts that Paris could be making the story up. Orozco said, however, that he will investigate the matter before coming to that conclusion.
The Queen's Baton is in Belize tonight for the 3rd time in its history of use as official symbol for the Commonwealth Games.
It arrived at the Phillip Goldson International Airport at around 1:10 p.m. yesterday, and 7News was there. Daniel Ortiz has that story:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
The Queen's Baton...it's on its 3rd trip, which will last for 288 days, where it will visit 70 Commonwealth nations, spanning over some 190,000 KM - or 118,000 miles.
Alistair Camron - Travel Manager, Queen's Baton "The handle: elm wood from a tree that fell in the gardens of a place that's called Garrison House in old fortress on the isle of Cumbrae and the top is made out of titanium, it's all one piece, and it's made through a methodology called a laser sintering which is effectively 3D printing. In the top is a little piece of granite from Ailsa Craig just off the Scottish coast and we will gift that to the country when we leave. It's a little of Scotland that remains behind and it's the first time it's ever been done."
A first time that Belize gets to keep a piece of the Baton itself, but as was done on the last 2 times it made its way to Belize, it went on a ceremonial journey from the Airport to Belize City.
From the airport, the Belize Rural Central Area Rep, walked a 50 yard's, where she handed it over to the Ladyville Village Chairman, who then, did his trek to hand it over to the President of the Cycling Federation of Belize.
He then walked it to the Cyclists who made their way out of the airport.
Alistair Camron - Travel Manager, Queen's Baton "The games are the second largest multisport games after the Olympics, so it's very significant sporting event on the calendar around the world. We certainly cherish the opportunity ourselves to take it from country to country. I believe anyone here who gets the opportunity to carry it should feel proud and when they see Her Majesty with that baton in her hand on July 23rd, people can look at it and say I was part of that, I've held that baton."
The cyclists took the Baton on relay from Ladyville to Belize City, where it was handed over to Mayor Darrell Bradley. He accepted the baton, where a short ceremony was done at the Memorial Park, which included plant of trees. Afterwards, Mayor Bradley donned running clothes, and took the baton on a relay through the City, where Minister of Sports Herman Longsworth also took a leg. That relay ended at the House of Culture, where another ceremony was held.
The Queen's Baton started its journey on October 9 of last year, and it will be used in the Opening Ceremony of 2014 Commonwealth Games on July 23. It will stay in Belize for 2 more days, moving to select parts of the country, and it will leave on Thursday for Bermuda.
In our last segment we showed you how it all went down in the 86th. Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic. But, as we close tonight, we'll have a little more for all you race junkies. The well-spoken second place finisher explained how he saw the race and the sprint shaping up between the dominant Mexican cyclists Magallanes and Rangel:..
Perry Gibson, Manager - Team Megabytes "In the end the foreigners really rode tactically; one attacking, one waiting and it were good that we had two where we were able to play our cards better."
Alejandro Padilla (Miranda), 2nd Place - Team SMART (Guat) "These guys Florencio and Magallanes on the front earlier on - the thing is with them - I know them, I race with them quite a bit and they are really strong riders. They have a lot of experience in the races around the world and I know they have the legs to go the whole way. I knew Mexicans work together, even if they are riding for different teams and them racing different teams back home as well. But it's the same, imagine you as Belizeans, you go to another country and everyone else is a stranger, but between you guys, you race together, you'll help each other and that's what they did. At the end the problem we had was 3 Mexicans an American and myself and one time I got on Magallanes' wheel, when he saw the American wanting to work with the others and they didn't want to go, Magallanes saw that and he just went real hard. I thought for a while I could actually take it but coming into the end with all those guys (Mexicans) here, he jump from behind, I didn't have the legs to respond. I just waited as close as possible to finish second."
Miranda-PADILLA finished three seconds behind the winner.