Governor to investigate search operation

| 10/03/2016 | 58 Comments
RCIPS Joint Marine Unit tow the Panga boat that the missing men and boys had been aboard

RCIPS Joint Marine Unit tows the Panga boat that the missing men and boys had been aboard

(CNS): As criticisms of the police over the search and rescue operation for two children and three men missing at sea continued, the Cayman Islands governor announced Thursday that she was carrying out an independent review at the request of the police commissioner. Her announcement came just hours after the opposition leader filed a private member’s motion calling on government to launch an independent investigation into how the police had handled the operation. It also came on the heels of further explanations from the police regarding their investigations into flare sightings off North West Point on Sunday evening.

“In order to be transparent about the RCIPS decisions and actions, there should be an independent and complete review of all the circumstances, from the first report to deployment and actions thereafter,” Commissioner David Baines said, as he asked the governor to conduct the enquiry.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick said she welcomed the request over the response to this tragic incident.  “All our thoughts are with the families of those who are missing. A suitably qualified person will be appointed to lead this review and to report to me on its outcome. I intend to make the report public in due course,” she added.

The RCIPS stated that all reports it received in relation to flares being fired on Sunday were investigated by the police helicopter but the crew did not spot any boats or people in the water. In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the RCIPS management said the police helicopter was first deployed to a report of a flare at Starfish Point, which came into the 911 Communications Centre at 6:28pm. Joint Marine Unit officers, who were also deployed, spoke with boaters, who told them they had seen two flares in that area, and a search was then conducted with support from the helicopter. Then, as the police helicopter was over Governor’s Harbour assisting with the first report of a flare, a second report came into the 911 Communications Centre at 7:09pm about another flare.

This time, the flare was seen off North West Point and the details were relayed directly to the helicopter. “The police helicopter left Governor’s Harbour to look into this report,” the RCIPS said. “The crew flew over NW Point and as far offshore as the weather permitted for them to investigate.”

The chopper was said to have flown a distance of four miles off shore and no subsequent flares were seen and no vessels were sighted during this check. Police said that the thermal imagery from the helicopter did not pick up any indication of people in the water.

Since this report was relayed directly to the helicopter crew during their deployment to another incident, the head of the Air Operations Unit, speaking on Cayman 27 Tuesday night, referred to this flight over NW Point as a “welfare check”, police said in the release, stressing that he was not aware at that time that the crew’s check of that area originated from a 911 report of a flare. “The head of the unit was not on the flight that evening,” police said.

Some of the criticisms of the RCIPS surround the fact that the helicopter was not in a position to begin a search when the police received the first confirmation that the 27-f00t Panga boat was missing around midnight on Sunday. Given that the last sighting of the vessel was more than eight hours before the report and the possible size of the search area by that time was very large, the police considered a nighttime search would be too dangerous.

However, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush has said in his private member’s motion that the situation was not handled with “efficiency and promptness that is expected of a life saving search and rescue”. Bush has called for an independent person to be appointed to determine the facts of what ensued on the day the group went missing and the subsequent matters connected to the disappearance of 9-year-old Kanyi and 11-year-old Kamron Brown, their uncle Gary Mullings, Edsell Haylock and Nicholas Watler,

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes the Police need to answer why they came to work at 7am and couldn not leave until 9am in the morning . I also ask too 1) WHY was there on Lifevest taken on board with two little boys takien on the boat with them?
    Going fising and No Radio ? as you know o the 12 miles banks you lose cell phone signal?
    I ask why was there such careless and RECKLESSNESS from the three adult men in regards to not protecting these little boys ( two of them)

    • Anonymous says:

      There was a report from someone who lives on the shore that the kids were wearing life jackets when the boat went by their house jerky

    • Carmen says:

      I don’t think that it is necessary to criticize them, since I’m sure any lessons have been taught to those onboard. If you are so passionate about what is right, organize and raise awareness of this and other issues for the future. There are certainly things that can be improved, go ahead, but your harsh judgement… Turn it into something positive.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If the Cayman Islands wanted a proper search and rescue helicopter and to include drug & firearm interdiction etc…. the US Coast Guard would gladly give us one free of cost. But that would not go down well in certain circles.

    You see, our UK snobs who are in charge of Cayman along with the FCO, would hang their heads in shame, if this was given to a UK territory and not by them. Too proud and snobbish to accept good. Prefer to spend millions for shit from the UK and does not fit our needs and then be happy to take it to the USA for an oil change and servicing, costing the tax payers millions of dollars every year.

    Same old same old BS every time with UK representation !!

  3. Philip says:

    Whilst we have someone here doing an independent review if this incident , perhaps they could also look into why XXXXXX

    CNS: Neither the press nor members of the public can comment on any aspect of an ongoing court case. When the trial is over, you can make this point.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Clearly the whole national SAR capabilities are in need of overhaul, not just for marine.
    Hopefully the review will enable the proper resourcing, training and ongoing capabilities of such personnel to be enhanced and maintained. Too much of a flippant attitude is taken by persons in the country towards national issues, like the CPA chairman.

  5. Sharkey says:

    I think that the Governor will act on this one because too many incompetence complaints are piling on her desk about the RCIP. .

  6. Shameless says:

    When it is proven that a rescue was done before under worst weather conditions and less equipment. What will the blind followers excuses be then It should have never happen! Wow!!!! talk about a proper Police Clown clone????

  7. Anonymous says:

    Would the police tell us what damage was sustained to the first boat that returned to shore? What exactly happened?

    • Anonymous says:

      If you mean the boat that went out on Monday morning, it sustained significant damage to a propeller. It returned to shore, was hauled out, propeller replaced and relaunched.

      • Anonymous says:

        How was the prop damaged. Hit bottom? A reef? Wrapped in a mooring line? Whatever happened needs to be looked into. So it does not happen again. The time it takes for that vessel to turn around and replace a prop can be life and death in a rescue operation. If the boat bottomed out in the trough of a wave in the channel im not blaming the crew or captain. Im questioning whether its the correct vessel we have to respond in rough conditions. Rescue operations of this nature rarely take place in calm weather. If your content with the prop suffered damage for an answer im convinced you may already know what happened and may be capable of enlightening those of us who dont.

  8. Anonymous says:

    They had the guardian. Thats all they needed to launch the op when the alarm was raised. End of story.

  9. 2much4play4u says:

    Too much coolaid dear Sonia a lot things should never happen but they do, Your unwavering support in face of blatant incompetence or unprofessional conduct points to some connection or your police agenda. The way things are going here though sooner rather later It will effect you directly and God forbid someone close to you loses their life and you will sing a different tone then. The unusual amount of terrible mishaps and the level of injustice that is happening here is a clear indication that something drastically wrong with the current leadership.

  10. Anonymous says:

    No, I think you are right. The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Well that is my experience of this island!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Bottom line is that an inadequate vessel went out with two children and no life saving necessities in the middle of horrible weather. I wouldn’t have even enjoyed going out in the north sound that day much less out on the ocean. The police getting a call 10 hours late in the middle of the night is irresponsible on the part of all involved. Could the police have jumped in their boats and run around in the middle of a storm not knowing where these people were in hopes of getting lucky? Maybe. Did they try to get as much information as possible to make the search worthwhile? I think so.

    My other question is how many family members and friends went rushing out into the horrible weather to risk their lives I the middle of the night?

    • Anonymous says:

      So because they were irresponsible they deserved to be left out there overnight to fend for themselves?? Do you realise what you’re saying?

      The police could have used the night hours to co-ordinate the search so that they could at least start the actual search at first light, 6am. instead they only started making the plans at that time and didn’t leave until after 9am. It was a fiasco and terrible incompetence with no sense of urgency.

      Yes there were family/friends who did go out that night in their boats looking for them. So how is it they could but the police couldn’t?

    • Anonymous says:

      two were out from 2 am til 5 am in a much smaller boat than the Guardian.

    • E says:

      Regardless of opinions surrounding circumstances and choices made by potential victims, the job of Police Services is to provide life saving measures and safe welfare to those in danger, in particular, in Search and Rescue. Search and Rescue is created and trained for this. If you don’t like that M.O., find another calling. RCIPS leadership failed the police officers on this search and rescue, and failed Cayman as a whole. Regardless of your opinions (above) surrounding circumstances, it’s not for judgment as to whom is helped and when.

  12. Anonymous says:

    There are world wide 2 cardinal rules in rough water conditions.
    -Wear a life jacket.
    -Stay with the boat.
    Perhaps required safety gear enforcement and boat training needs to be done.
    My condolences to the family.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rule One – Look at the weather conditions then check the forecasts before making the trip and if it’s all bad don’t go out.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I had once had engine failure on a boat offshore, I was well equipped with vfh radio, sat phone, cell phone and life vest. When I called 911 for assurance they told me to call harbour house marina for assistance. I called harbour house and the man I had talked to didn’t even know where south sound was, cause he was new to the island and told me to call back in ten minutes. I called back inten minutes and then they told me that they only could help if I was in the north sound and to called back 911. I then called back 911 and they said if I knew anybody with a boat that could help cause they can’t called the marine unit until it became a real emergency. I then had to called the central police station to get the marine unit phone number and when I called them, they had said they hadn’t got no report or distress call from 911 and they are just sitting and waiting. I then gave them my GPS coordinates and they was there in 45 minutes. The protocol to rescue is total BS and they should know that people lives or at stake and we the tax payers are paying they wages and all this equipment to save and help us but they choose to decide what is an emergency. But I bet if I called and said I had a boat load of ganja they would be there in a heart beat.

    • connerie says:

      I mean how ridiculous is that, the amount of run around you got and imagine you were well equipped for your situation. It’s a good thing you weren’t in too much danger because by time you got through and they got to you smh. They need to be properly trained and stop this “don’t care” attitude as this is people lives they are playing with. I mean just ridiculous on all levels!

    • Realist says:

      It doesn’t sound like the police are at fault here, sounds like 911 need to be trained.

    • Island Girl says:

      I am so glad you commented on the inefficiency of the RCIPS and others who did nothing to help these three men and 2 children lost at sea. If I were a tourist thinking of chartering a boat, doing any water sports such as diving, going fishing or hiring tour guides to take my family to Sting Ray City I would now think twice about doing so in the Cayman Islands as they do not have the proper skills for emergency rescue if you are out at sea. I’m grateful for all of the comments that expose what is truly going on in the Cayman Islands, tourist should be well aware of what they get into if they plan on coming here for a vacation.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you are coming here as a visitor, please go with a reputable company who take your safety seriously, please don’t use a local drug boatt that is unsafe and ‘goes ‘fishing’.

  14. Jgwb says:

    Yes they made a bad choice but the marine unit could have done more. Only until its someone in your family you would understand.

  15. Juniper says:

    So the governor is going to investigate the police? Isn’t that like the wolf asking the coyote to mind the sheep?

    • Anonymous says:

      Governor is NOT going investigative as she said she will find independent person to look at it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think this Governor is fair and unbiased. She is not a political veteran and I have spoken to her on numerous occasions and have always seen her follow through. Perhaps having a mother herself looking into this is not a bad thing.

      The RCIPS and 911 should hang their heads in shame.
      I truly believe the ethical and grounded young man who said he saw a flare in the direction of 12 Mile Bank at 6:30PM, that timing makes sense and the police repsonse about Rum Point is a red herring, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if a dozen flares went off somewhere ELSE later that same day!?! I WANT the young man’s cell phone screenshot in the newspaper to show he called around sunset and the police did NOT act.
      911 failed us.
      The Marine Unit failed us.
      The RCIPS failed us.
      Emergencies do not happen in calm seas, period.

      • Anonymous says:

        The fact that the cell phones stopped working at least 2 hours before the time of this flare would lead one to think that the boat had overturned already and the people were in the water, I don’t think, looking at the pictures of the boat and the equipment, that once the boat had capsized they would have had a flare to set off.

        Many condolences to the family, it is a dreadful thing to have happened, and so very, very sad. The sea is a massive place, and in rough weather it is very difficult to spot people in the water. You can search in the same area for hours and not spot people in the water who are in that search area. Even if it is proved that the RCIPS could have acted differently, there is nothing that will ever say whether these poor souls would have been found in time, it appears that their boat had turned over long before the RCIPS were ever informed.

        Please respect the sea, mother nature is more powerful than all of us.

      • Anonymous says:

        Especially when you got a boat like the guardian equipped with state of the art optics and can ride through gale force winds and high seas. They had the equipment, and the training but their excuse was it’s too dangerous to go out at night? What kind of garbage am I hearing here? Semper Paratus. – Learn that and remember it good RCIP.

  16. MI6 in 345 says:

    This is a PR stunt to satisfy the natives. Governor Kilpatrick will find nothing wrong with the RCIPS response and again defend her pitbull CoP Baines. It’s called circling the wagons and protecting her majesty’s interests.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said, and you should notice that the governor didn’t say a single word about holding the commissioner accountable by taken action against him if it is discovered that he handled the emergency poorly. Please also note that the governor is only doing this investigation because the commissioner asked her to. This is pathetic. I will wait with baited breath on the outcome of that investigation.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The police let me down on this one, trust me

  18. Anonymous says:

    As a person who has no affection for David Baines, this situation cannot be pinned on him. What happened, happened. End of.

  19. sonia says:

    When are we going to place the blame where it should be ….who goes out 10 miles in that boat. I mean really ,

    I support the police …This incident should never have happened.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree fully with your comment, however this same vessel was used on a few too many occasions to go as far as Jamaica for some “fishing”. The main mistake was taking these innocent boys along for the trip.

    • Anonymous says:

      Does that mean that the RCIPS should refuse to do the job that are being paid to do, which I might add, is the highest amongst the uniform branches? Then we should pay them based on the number of efficient responses they make.

  20. Shhhhh. says:

    This is very good news and one can only trust that the resulting report will be made public in a timely manner. It will very likely throw a bucket of cold water on the heads of those negativity specialists and RCIP/Marine Unit bashers who post on CNS. Facts, facts, and all the facts please.

  21. Anonymous says:

    But the Police helicopter here is not a Search & Rescue chopper , if I am not mistaken.
    The same model & type can be seen in British news media , responding to traffic incidents & suburban & city policing by air , traffic control , targeted crime interdiction. Which by all measures it has proven to be adequately tasked for these types of jobs.
    But if you wish to go all-weather / any weather 24/7 offshore in poor marine conditions , I think another type of aircraft is available. Was this not one of the criteria when CIG & the Police were choosing the heli’? Either pay a few million $ extra for all weather capability & varying roles , to include S.A.R , or go the way they did with this aircraft? Others on the forum better informed will no doubt enlighten.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are right. Around 15 million dollars and you can get a search and rescue aircaft. Add on to that another 10 million for an ocean going cutter, and the have euivalent of the US Coastguard. Add on about ten million a year to run and we are there. Or carry on with the best option we have.

      • Anonymous says:

        And do you think that THIS government will spend that kind of money on a helicopter?? Absolutely not. Look at what happened just trying to get the last one. People would rather expect the police to do everything, be crime fighters, traffic patrollers, all-night search and rescue operators in bad weather and with no idea where a boat is on a moonless night in the pitch black, then actually invest in a helicopter like that. And by the way, you would need two of them, because there are requirements on a weekly basis that choppers be serviced, and then they are out of the air for hours and hours. What if someone takes their kids out in bad weather with no life jackets to 12 Mile bank during that time? Then you need a second helicopter to go rescue them. That’ll be another 15 million please. So people on this island can either take their personal safety seriously or invest in about 30 million more dollars’ worth of helicopters and boats, or shut up. But you can’t do neither and blame the police. The scale of the lack of personal responsibility I have seen this week has been shocking.

        • anonymous says:

          totally agree. Why was two children taking out in that kind of weather in the first place And especially why without Lifevest on board? Why no radio as they know that telephones lose signal on the 12mile banks.

        • Anonymous says:

          All this talk about investing in a search and rescue chopper and they have what they need already need, the guardian.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Here goes Mckeeva again! Trying to make political mileage out of this tragedy. The man just won’t stop!

    • Keep your two cents. says:

      @7:30 how on Gods earth is he doing so? By trying to get to the bottom of the situation. Stop with this blame game una dont see it gets us nowhere….it does not matter if they shouldn’t have gone out in bad weather…I would question the RCIPS’ response to this situation….they are supposed to be as efficient as possible. At 9-10pm the helicopter is out scavenging the water for drug runners. Why not do the same for an innocent family?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Prediction – HE will find that RCIPS ‘acted responsibly, efficiently and effectively, within the parameters of their capabilities’. CoP Baines will be praised

    • Anonymous says:

      He, the commissioner will probably get salary increase at the conclusion of the investigation. If it was a Caymanian he would have been placed on required leave immediately. Why are we so stupid to see the injustice in our country?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Maybe if the “dignitaries” had not considered themselves so important as to need to be ferried by helicopter during the visit of some minor royals then the search might have been much more effective.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Police helicopter never went near the royal visit last weekend. Get your facts right

  25. Anonymous says:

    First they say they never recieved any report of a flare of NW Point and now they are saying they did and it was investigated. Either the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing or this is complete b*llshit and either way this is not acceptable for a team that is responsible for search and rescue.

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