The Watooka Club’s annual fun-day at Linden came to an abrupt end when three persons, including two children, went missing after a boat capsized in the Demerara River near the club’s boat landing.
Missing and feared drowned are: Kishana Hollingsworth, 20, of 387 One Mile Wismar, Linden and Lovely Lass Village; Melinda Duggan, a 12-year-old of Block 22 Wismar, Linden; and Quacy Miggins, seven-years-old, of Old Kara Kara, Mackenzie, Linden.
According to eyewitness Marlon Sullivan, the boat, property of the Linden Community Policing Group, was approaching the landing when the captain made a rash turn, resulting in the vessel capsizing. There were approximately fourteen passengers on board at the time. “Soon as we see the boat me and a man jump on on the jet ski and we go fuh help save the people them…. De boat de done turn over, so we just try fuh pull out who went on the boat and we collect almost a good set ah people with Oscar (the Captain) and we put them in a corner and went out back to get the others,” said Sullivan
The man noted that Miggins, a student of Regma Primary, was with his mother Pear St. John. Sullivan said that he attempted to save the child but was unable to release him from his mother’s grip. “She holding on pun he thinking is somebody else so she son end up going under she by she belly and when I dive and go for him I did not see him so I had to end up holding she and pulling she in,” he related. St. John was rushed to the Linden Hospital Complex, where she remain-ed a patient up to press time. According to Hollingsworth’s sister, Melinda, they left their One Mile home for a hospital visit and decided to take a walk to the Watooka Club’s fun day.
Once there, Hollingsworth and her cousin, Duggan, a first form student of the Mackenzie High School, opted to go for a ride on the boat. Several residents conducted an intense search for the missing persons but their efforts proved futile. They abandoned the search some time after 8:00pm and promised to resume early this morning.
Speaking with the Stabroek News, a distraught Chief Executive Officer of the Linmine Secretariat Horace James said that he was very saddened by the incident, which put an end to what was a beautiful and well attended activity. The Secretariat manages the Watooka Club.
James said that at the time of the incident, the official river activities organized by the club had already concluded. “We had four canoe races which concluded at 1:30pm and the presentations of prizes were all done by that time,” he explained. He said that the other river activity was a boat cruise, which was done by the DeJoung Ferry Service and concluded by 4pm.
He explained that the ill fated boat was the property of the Community Policing Group, which was hired to transport life guards for the canoeing activities. “What I learnt is that when Oscar (the captain) went to check on the boat, a group of patrons begged him to take them for a ride and he obliged them and this is what end up happening. But we were officially finished with the service of that boat and it was docked,” James explained.
James said that he learnt that two of the missing persons were wearing life jackets at the time. The life jackets were recovered floating in the river. There were others who were not wearing life jackets.
Malcolm Forde, a cousin of Hollingsworth and Duggan, drowned last December at the Watooka Club Swimming pool.
Up to press time last night, the captain of the boat, Oscar Giles, was in police custody assisting with investigations.