A French tourist on vacation in Caye Caulker visited Amandala to talk about a boat accident that resulted in the loss of three fingers on his right hand.
Thierry Roquet, 43, a tour operator from Guatemala, was almost run over by a boat, allegedly owned by Triple J Boat Company.
According to a police report, on Friday, June 2, they were called to an area just off the island where they saw Roquet, whose right hand was bleeding from the loss of three fingers. He was taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), where he was treated and released, added the report.
Police’s investigations into the matter revealed that Roquet was swimming in an area used as a dock by passenger boats.
The report further said that Roquet told them that he was swimming in the sea when he was hit by the propeller of a Triple J boat that was about to dock at its regular docking area.
However, when we spoke with Thierry later that day in an interview at the KHMH Surgical Clinic, he told us another version of the story. He said he felt that he was in a safe swimming zone.
Thierry said that the accident could have been avoided if there were signs in the area to warn tourists about the danger of swimming in an area used by vessels.
Thierry said he saw no signs, and was under the impression that the area was safe for swimming.
He said that at about 5:30 p.m., he was swimming in front of Tropical Paradise Hotel when he was suddenly hit by the boat. He was about 15-20 meters from the shore and as he snorkeled, he heard a noise, and when he lifted his head out of the water, he saw a boat coming towards him.
Thierry said he could not do much to avoid from being hit. He tried to go back quickly under the water, but his right hand got caught in the boat’s propeller, despite his efforts to avoid it.
He managed to swim to shore and was assisted by people that were nearby. Thierry’s three fingers were severed by the boat’s propeller. Those three fingers were never found, and even if they had been found, doctors would have not been able to reattach them, he told us.
But the unfortunate accident is one that Thierry hopes will lead to signs being placed in these areas used by boats and other vessels, said Thierry.
Thierry believes that while he was lucky not to have been killed, tomorrow, someone else may not be so lucky.
Amandala contacted the owner of Triple J, Joe Marin, who said he would refrain from commenting on the matter at this time, because the police and the Belize Port Authority are still investigating.
Thierry, however, informed us that he is planning to take legal action.
Thierry said that a report to him is that the driver, name unknown, at the time of the accident, was talking with someone who was sitting next to him, and was not paying enough attention to where he was going.
The driver is not taking responsibility for the accident, however, and is blaming him for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, said Thierry.
Thierry, who now lives in Guatemala, is on vacation in Belize and had planned to spend three days on the island then head down south to Punta Gorda.