The family of Kishana Hollingsworth, 20 years, and Melinda Duggan, a 12 year old, say that they are now in a better position to move on with funeral arrangement after the recovery of the two bodies yesterday.
The two, and seven year old Quacy Miggins went missing following a boat mishap in the Demerara River in the vicinity of the Watooka Club at Linden on Friday. Miggins’ body was recovered on Monday in the vicinity of the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge. Hollingsworth was found some way out of Linden at Gold Hill while Duggan floated up in Watooka.
Several family members said that since the incident they have had sleepless nights as they spent endless hours in the company of other public-spirited residents pacing the river banks while others used boats up and down the river in search of the girls.
Stabroek News caught up with a survivor who said that the lives of the three could have been saved had a few things been done differently. He said that all three that died were wearing life jackets at the time along with most of the other passengers.
Recapping the events that led up to the boat ride the survivor (who requested not to be named) said that he was in the company of the captain Oscar Giles when at the Watooka Club’s annual fun day. “Somebody came to Oscar and said look Colin deh trying to start the boat with that he (Oscar) went to investigate.”
He said that while rebuking ‘Colin’ for troubling the boat a group of ladies begged.
The captain decided to take the boat to the other side of the river for safety. “He called me and asked me to go with him to assist in taking the engine off and I went with him.” It was at that point some of the passengers who were close to the boat begged the captain to take them for a ride. “They begged him (and) tell him that he was the reason that they were at the function and that he told them that there were going to be rides at the fun day. That is when he decided to take them for a ride since all the official boat rides for the day had concluded, they begged really hard.”
According to the survivor, who said that he sat at the bow of the boat, the ride took the passengers up the Demerara River and lasted about ten minutes. “I don’t know why he did it, if it had to do with channel or what but as we were about four meters or so from docking he (Oscar) turned to moor this caused everybody to lean on one side and the boat toppled.”
He added that a jet ski was docked close to the landing and opined that the captain was attempting to avoid a collision. “This is not because I want to represent him (the captain) but the living father knows it’s the truth. He wasn’t going speed like everybody is saying. It was only us on that boat and a very few persons who were at the river end of the club actually saw what happened” said the survivor.
He related that after the boat capsized the Jet Ski went out to their rescue but the driver abandoned the ski and went under the boat in search for those who were trapped. According to the survivor he jumped on the jet ski and was struggling to get it started. “When I managed to get it started I drove to the boat, pulled up Oscar and we collected most of the survivors that were in the water.”
He said that he recalled seeing the two females in the water but had no recollection of seeing young Miggins. “… the water was disturbed so we couldn’t see the bubbles of those who drowning. I remember this one girl who held on to my finger and was begging me ‘mister don’t loose meh’ and she was trying to climb on to the ski and I told her not to but to hold on to the side and we went in”
Another survivor said that she is still in a state of shock and did not have much recollection of what really happened. She hastened to say however, that she was one who begged the captain to take her and friends for a ride. “He try hard to turn we down but we overpowered him. I don’t blame him for what happen we all had a part to play but I am truly sorry that lives were lost, I could have been dead too.” she said in tears.
Both survivors said that they numbered about ten including the captain on the boat at the time of the incident. Stabroek News understands from authentic sources that when taken into custody Giles tested negative on two breathalyzer tests. Up to press time he was still in police custody.
Chief Executive Officer of the Linmine Secretariat which also manages the Watooka Club Horace James said that at the time of the incident all river activities organized by the Watooka Club had ended. The boat being the property of the community policing group was used earlier that day to transport life guards for the four canoe races which formed part of the Clubs activity for the day.