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YIR: Five lost at sea

Now we turn to a story that not only rocked Cayman, but shook the RCIPS to its core.
On March 6th five Caymanians were lost at sea after a fishing trip gone wrong.
The backlash led to the premature departure of Police Commissioner David Baines.
March 6th started out a day like any other for Gary Mullings, Nicholas Watler, Edsell Haylock and children Kanyi and Kamron Brown, heading out to 12-mile bank for a fishing trip.
But an unforgiving sea coupled with worsening weather turned what was supposed to be a short trip into what was “hell , absolutely hell,” for Melody Mullings-Brown, mother of boys.

Reports say one of the two boat engines malfunctioned during the trip leaving the five stranded by mid-afternoon. Frantic calls from relatives triggered an air and sea search starting the next morning. Their overturned boat was found about 20 miles offshore, but no sign of the five.
The boys’ father Imron Brown laid blame at the feet of the RCIPS.
“An eleven year-old and a nine year-old.. my babies..Right? What is so complicated for you? To go out there and try and find them? Aren’t you supposed to be saving lives?” the grieving father cried.

The tragedy created an emotional rip-tide in Cayman. “And we still hope that we will find the five individuals: the two little boys and the three men, miraculously somehow, although things do not look good,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin.
“Yes, and I certainly endorse the comments of the Premier about how we should be thinking about the family at this time,” HE Governor Helen Kilpatrick said.

The emotions quickly turned to anger bringing the RCIPS search and rescue operations into sharp focus. In April Independent MLAs pushed for a special emergency meeting of the LA to address the issues, as well as, Mr Baines’ management. The Premier led a Government boycott of that meeting since the House was scheduled to meet the next week. An inquiry was initiated to examine the search and rescue efforts and it found no fault with the police response, according to Deputy Governor Hon. Franz Manderson. But it noted several changes that could be made in future incidents.

“The decision to not launch either the police helicopter or Cayman Guardian during the hours of darkness was concluded to be correct once all the factors had been considered and these factors are clearly laid down in this report for clarity,” Mr Manderson said.

Public criticism of the RCIPS played a role in the eventual departure of commissioner David Baines. Mr Baines received compensation for the final year of his contract after he demitted office.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 18 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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