General — 21 November 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
More charges for Coast Guard captain after Crooked Tree Lagoon accident

BELIZE CITY–On January 31, 2014, there was a horrific boat accident on the Crooked Tree Lagoon, which claimed the life of Benjamin Jerome Gentle, 20. The fatal boat accident occurred when two Belize Coast Guard boats collided while ferrying some area residents to the Philip Goldson Highway due to floods that had rendered the road impassable.

The accident resulted in one fatality and several persons being injured, and after months of investigation, police charged Coast Guard officer Whaine Williams, a Belize City resident, with manslaughter by negligence for Gentle’s death.

Williams was released on bail, while his case began making its way through the slow-moving judicial process at the Magistrate’s Court, where a preliminary inquiry will determine if it will be committed to the Supreme Court for trial on indictment.

That, however, was not the end of Williams’ troubles with the law. Today, Tuesday, he was brought to court and arraigned on additional charges in relation to the tragic boating accident. Williams was charged for injuries to three other persons hurt in the accident.

He appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, who arraigned him on two counts of grievous harm to Anthea Garbutt and Gabriel Cruz. He is also facing one count of wounding for injuries sustained by Jair Tillett, another Crooked Tree resident.

Williams was initially arraigned on September 3, 2014 for a manslaughter by negligence charge.

Today he had to secure new bail. Chief Magistrate Smith offered him bail in the sum of $5,000, stipulating that $500 was to be in cash and the balance of $4,500 was to be a signed surety.

Williams met bail, and he is due back in court #1 on January 21, 2015.

The Crooked Tree Lagoon boat accident is the worst boating tragedy to have occurred in the country in recent times.

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