November 26, 2020

NEVER AGAIN: Swimming at Pedro Castle will be illegal

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Photo by: Dennie Warren Jr.

Police will post warnings against entering the water at Pedro Bluff while seeking a law to forbid bathing in the area, hoping to forestall further tragedies after the Boxing Day drowning of 17-year-old Justin Henry.

“We highly recommend that people do not do that, and never do it again,” said RCIPS Inspector Clive Smith yesterday. Mr Smith is part of the Marine Unit handling the incident.

“We are going to signpost the area, [make it unlawful for people to swim there] and the police call on the public to mind the advisory [warnings] and take their safety into account.”

Inspector Smith said the warnings would be in place soon, but acknowledged that creating new laws required an effortof bureaucracy.

“It has to go through the Legal Department, of course, so it takes a little time, but we call on the public to heed the advisory on their safety,” he said.

Justin Henry

Inspector Smith rejected suggestions that police had not responded quickly enough to the 4;00pm call for help from one of the three women accompanying Mr Henry, a resident of the Rock Hole area of George Town.

“It took about a half-hour, maybe 45 minutes, to get there,” he said. “The length of time to get there depends on what side of the island we are patrolling, The helicopter was on the ground at Owen Roberts airport and it takes about 20 minutes to get it into the air.

“We have to get the crew, get them into helmets and prepare the aircraft. The search was conducted for approximately two hours until dark,” Mr Smith said.

He said Monday’s events started when Mr Henry’s companion jumped into the water from the bluff.

“It happened around 4:00pm when two fellows with three female persons were at Pedro Bluff, and the elder of the boys jumped off the cliff there.

“He climbed back on and jumped a second time. Then the younger of the two followed and jumped off the cliff. The first guy, then, could not find the second, and one of the girls called 911 and a search was mounted.”

Police reports said only that “a male had jumped into the water in the vicinity of Pedro Castle” and was joined by another male who sought to assist.”

Aerial and marine police units tried to locate Mr Henry, “until dark,” the inspector said, acknowledging, however, that “if a person is not found within 10 minutes to 20 minutes, the chance of rescue” is limited, and “you are looking at a recovery search”.

The four others at the scene “’were ok, with slight coughs and things, while the surviving swimmer “didn’t need any attention”.

“The search was called off Monday night and resumed the following morning at first light, about 6;30, as we prepared and organised a search pattern,” Mr Smith said.

About 9:30, divers working off police boats found Mr Henry’s body “in 39 feet of water, about 50 yards off the bluff, right outside Pedro Castle,” he said reitertating his warnings.

“The currents are deep and strong, A stray gust of wind can blow you right into the ocean, while the waves can come up and sweep you away,” Mr Smith said.

Police continue to investigate the incident.

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