The lifeless body of a 28-year-old man was yesterday morning retrieved from the Essequibo River, approximately 14 hours after he fell overboard following a boat collision on Friday evening.
Dead is Vidyanand Singh, a labourer, from Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo. Singh and six of his colleagues were being transported from Hog Island via boat, when another vessel collided with it. Singh who was sitting towards the back of the boat at the time, fell into the water and was not located until yesterday morning. He was not wearing a life-jacket at the time, Stabroek News understands. Another of the boat’s passengers, 69-year-old Herronimo Dookram sustained injuries to his face during the incident. He is currently hospitalized.
The second boat involved, sped away from the scene after the accident, Stabroek News was told. However, the police said in a press release issued last evening that the pilot of the second boat John Kennedy of Caria Caria, Essequibo River, was in custody assisting with investigations.
James Sanassie, who was sitting next to Singh in the boat, said that the vessel had been hired to take them to a transit point in the Essequibo River. The men, who are employees of Shafeek Khan General Construction Company, were building a sluice on Hog Island for the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). Two of the workers were going to Wakenaam where another sluice is being constructed while Singh and the others were travelling to Parika.
Sanassie said that the boat left Hog Island at about 5:30 pm and about fifteen minutes later the accident occurred. “We see this other boat bout 20 rod length away (100 metres), then we see it dash in we path so we dash away, but then it come in we path again and crash into de side of we boat… and hit he [Singh] clear out of de boat,” Sanassie said. The boat crashed into the left rear of Sanassie’s boat, the same side Singh had been sitting on, Sanassie disclosed.
Sanassie said a frantic attempt was made to find Singh but they did not.
Sanassie said the other boat was blue and had four persons in it. He said too that the place was not very dark since it was early and the full moon was out shining. “It wasn’t dark, it was bright, bright,” he said.
According to Sanassie, the search for Singh continued with the assistance of an extended search party which subsequently arrived on the scene. The search was called off some time after 10 pm, with Singh still missing.
At about 8 am yesterday, Sanassie said he received a telephone call informing them that Singh’s body had been found in the river. A fisherman reportedly made the discovery, this newspaper was told. Another passenger, Mukeen Hussain said the other boat, which had a 75 HP engine was speeding at the time.
The boat he and the other men were travelling in was a 45 HP vessel, he said. According to him, after the accident he called out to the driver of the other vessel but he sped away. “I shout yo, yo, yo…but he left,” Hussain said. Hussain said they subsequently learnt that the same boat had almost collided with another boat transporting 11 persons earlier in the evening.
Singh’s reputed wife Annie Dhanraj told Stabroek News that she last saw her husband two weeks ago. He was expected home on Friday evening and would have spent the weekend home. Dhanraj said she only learnt about the accident yesterday morning.
Dhanraj said the two last communicated on Friday morning, when he told her he would be home later in the day. The couple has two children–aged five and one. The grieving woman said that she and Singh were planning to take the children out to spend Christmas.
Meanwhile, a senior police source told this newspaper yesterday that neither of the two vessels were the regular passenger boats which normally ply the route.