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Coast Guard officer charged with manslaughter by negligence

CrimeCoast Guard officer charged with manslaughter by negligence

BELIZE CITY–An officer of the Belize Coast Guard was today arraigned on a charge of manslaughter by negligence in connection with the death of a Crooked Tree resident, Benjamin Gentle, Jr., 20, which occurred on the Crooked Tree Lagoon on January 31, 2014, as residents were being ferried across the lagoon.

No plea was required from Whaine Williams, 49, a resident of Mahogany Street Extension, when he appeared before Magistrate Herbert Panton, because the offense for which he was charged is indictable and will be heard in the Supreme Court.

Panton released Williams on a $2,000 bail plus one surety of the same amount and adjourned his case to November 17, 2014.

The January 31, 2014 boat accident in the Crooked Tree lagoon caused the death of Benjamin Jerome Gentle, Jr., 20

After reading the charge to Williams, Magistrate Panton remarked: “I could not help but question why you are before me on this charge. Weren’t you in the execution of your duties?”

Seven months ago, in the early morning hours of Friday, January 31, 2014, there was a horrific boat accident on the Crooked Tree Lagoon, where the Coast Guard was involved in the ferrying of residents to the Philip Goldson Highway, due to the massive flooding that had submerged the Crooked Tree causeway since November 2013.

The accident resulted in the instant death of Benjamin Gentle, Jr., while eight other persons suffered various forms of injuries when two Coast Guard vessels crashed into each other and the propeller of the larger C-GO3 injured the passengers in the smaller boat, Sarita.

Williams was not charged in connection with the injuries that were sustained by the eight others who were hurt, when the Coast Guard vessel, a Columbian boat, C-GO3, collided into Sarita, in which Gentle and the other injured passengers were travelling.

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