General — 23 May 2014 — by Albert J. Ciego

Keron Michael Jeffords, 24, drowned while swimming in the Belize Old River while celebrating his birthday on Sunday at the Owen Hendy Farm in Isabella Bank.

Jeffords reportedly went under the water at about 4:00 Sunday afternoon and did not resurface. His body was recovered at about 7:00 this morning, Tuesday, about one mile and a half from the area where he disappeared.

When he was found, one of his hands was missing, believed to have been bitten off by crocodiles. A post-mortem was conducted about a mile from where he was found and he was buried at about 5:30 this evening at the Eternal Gardens Cemetery at Mile 13 on the George Price Highway.

Police said that at about 3:30 Sunday afternoon, May 18, Jeffords and seven of his friends went to the Owen Hendy Farm, in Isabella Bank just beside the Belize Old River, to celebrate his birthday, and after socializing under the Owen Hendy house, they all went swimming in the river.

According to police, Jeffords was the first one to jump into the river, followed by the rest of his friends. They began swimming to the next side of the river, but Jeffords’ friends realized that the current was too strong and they turned back to the river bank, but Jeffords continued swimming across the river.

Jeffords went under the water and was swept downstream. The alarm was raised and his friends immediately got a canoe and began to search the river, but their efforts were in vain.

Kevin Garbutt, Jeffords’ friend, who travelled with him to Isabella Bank, told Amandala that he immediately called police and the Coastguard, but they were not able to locate Jeffords’ body.

Throughout Monday the search was conducted, and was concluded at about 5:30 Monday evening. The search resumed Tuesday mornig when Jeffords’ body was found.

Garbutt said that an autopsy carried out by Doctor Mario Estradabran, Police Coroner, certified that drowning was the cause of Jeffords’ death.

Garbutt said that he will miss Jeffords, who was a handyman at Kevin’s Garage (Garbutt’s business), and was very willing to do anything asked of him, from going to the store, to washing vehicles. Garbutt said that even when he offered him money for assistance, Jeffords refused to take it. Garbutt said that he was like a godfather to Jeffords, and that Jeffords was mannerly and humble.

Jeffords’ mother, Ilona Jeffords, said that she and the family are glad that his body was found and they are able to bury him. She said that he could swim, but had just eaten when he went into the water, which she believed caused his drowning.

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