A Bartica boat captain, hailed as a hero by passengers, yesterday died after being snared underwater by his lifejacket when his boat capsized in the rough Cuyuni Rapids.
Carey Persaud had only minutes before offloaded his passengers and advised them to walk the bank of the river to a location where he would pick them up again, while he braved the rapids. He never made it to them alive.
Persaud was also known as ‘Cha Cha,’ 49, of Four Miles Housing Scheme, Bartica, Region Seven.
Stabroek News was told by a close relative of Persaud that he was on his way to a mining camp in the interior to take stocks and he also had seven passengers aboard the vessel. The relative explained that an assistant stayed in the vessel with Persaud after he instructed the passengers to use the riverbank and walk to point up ahead where he would pick them up as he had noticed the rough waters of the rapids. Persaud was only a few seconds into the rapids when the boat capsized.
The relative said that the assistant recounted that Persaud was taken below the water after his lifejacket became trapped in the engine steering. By the time help was able to get to him, he had already drowned and was found clutching the straps of his jacket under the immersed vessel.
One of the survivors, who said that she was too distraught to speak, nonetheless praised the dead man through his relative. “Many other captains would have prefer to take all a we through and it could have been more worse than this… we know he dead but still want to tell him thanks for letting us walk because only God knows what would a happen if he gone through with we,” the woman said.
Persaud is survived by his wife Gail and three children. He was the 10th of 11 siblings.
He was described by his relative as a caring father, husband, brother and friend, who was always selfless.
Meanwhile, the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), in a statement, said that the case is currently under investigations.
The Director General of MARAD Claudette Rogers expressed condolences to Persaud’s family. “Any loss of life at sea is a blow to us,” she said, while also reminding river users to adhere to rules and wear lifejackets when travelling on water.