Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 31st 2018 Contents news A3
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
JOEL JULIEN AND
A six-month pregnant woman and
a 60-year-old man were airlifted
and flown to the Sangre Grande
District hospital for emergency
treatment yesterday after they
and 14 others were stranded for
two days at Madamas Bay, which
is located between Blanchisseuse
Julie La Rode, 27 and Neil Al-
lain, of Maturita, were treated and
La Rode was kept for observation
at the hospital.
Allain was reported to have
fainted as he entered the hospital.
The group of 16 went to Mada-
mas to camp over the weekend,
Allain’s son Gareth, who was
among those stranded, told the
T&T Guardian by phone from the
The majority of the group ar-
rived at Madamas Bay on Thurs-
day while the remainder arrived
Madamas Bay is easily accessed
via boat and that is the method the
two groups used to reach there.
The boat was supposed to re-
turn for them on Sunday. How-
ever, because of rough waters on
Sunday, the boat did not return.
When the boat did arrive for
them around lunch-time on
Monday at Madamas Bay tragedy
“When the boatman was com-
ing into the bay and trying to ma-
noeuvre the boat a wave flipped it
over,” Gareth said.
“Everybody had to run out to
try to help him, to bail out the
water and to try and salvage the
boat and get it to shore,” he said.
When the boat was finally se-
cured, its captain had to flush out
Around 5.30 pm several at-
tempts were made to leave the
bay but the waves were too high.
The group realised they would
have to spend a second un-
planned night in the area.
“By Sunday night we were with-
out food so we went into the for-
est to find what we could eat, we
caught some fish and we dug up
some yams in the forest. We also
ate coconut and drank coconut
water,” Gareth said.
Gareth said some members of
the group also went into the for-
est and got spring water for them
“We were all exhausted and
people were losing hope and we
had little quarrels in between but
it was fine everyone eventually
pulled together and we managed
to stabilise our minds and decide
that we all have to come out to-
gether safe,” he said.
There were problems to receive
cellphone signals so the group
had to come together to ensure
they were able to make a call for
“We roamed the beach to and
from and when we did find a
place where we got reception we
had a shift of people who stayed
on that spot to tried and called, so
somebody was always there hop-
ing to get service,” Gareth said.
Eventually, the group were able
to call E999 and explain their
When the emergency services
arrived La Rode and Allain were
In all, 14 members of the group
were rescued. The captain and
two members of the group stayed
back last night to repair the ves-
Sgt Ronny Ramphallard of Trin-
idad and Tobago Police Service’s
(TTPS) Air Support Unit, utilising
a National Security helicopter
with SSA Air Division crew, Cap-
tain Varune Ghisyawan and Flight
Officer Kurt Stafford responded.
Allain said the group were
grateful to the emergency ser-
vices for their response.
Claudette Quintero, the senior
Allain’s wife, said she was relieved
her husband was back home last
RADHICA DE SILVA
Air Guard and Coast Guard
teams are continuing the search
for commercial diver Chevonne
Bartholemew who went missing
at sea following an underwater
expedition off Gasparee Island in
Chaguaramas on Monday.
Bartholemew, 37, of Flamboy-
ant Crescent, Valencia, was em-
ployed with Trindive Underwater
Services which contracts com-
mercial divers for companies in-
volved in the oil and gas industry.
Police said Bartholemew went
to do an underwater inspection
of a boat anchored in about 60
feet deep water but he never re-
Bartholemew was wearing
scuba diving gear and was taking
still photos of a vessel’s hull, one
Several divers and search teams
were combing the waters up to
late yesterday but were affected
by strong top currents and under-
His wife, Pete-Ann Barthole-
mew, said she was praying that he
was still alive. The couple has two
children, Zion, 11, who is writing
the Secondary Entrance Assess-
ment examinations this year and
Pete-Ann said Bartholemew left
home at 4 am to go to Chaguaramas
after getting a call on Sunday night.
She said usually air divers are
connected by an umbilical cable
and are in communication with
someone above in the dive vessel.
“He had an air supply in a tank
but I don’t know what kind of
communication he had or if he
was connected,” Pete-Ann said,
recounting details from what
other divers told her.
Pete-Ann said she was told that
her husband got disconnected
and he was not attached to the
other diver. She said this was
“I am a praying person. I know
that everyone is out there search-
ing for him. Several divers and
boats went out yesterday. Coast
guard officers were there and the
Air Guard helicopter was prom-
ised but that did not happen.
We were in touch with someone
from the National Operations
Centre who agreed to send out a
chopper. Subsequent to that they
spoke about not having fuel but
I am hopeful. We are a family of
faith and we are believing that
he is alive and waiting to be res-
cued,” Pete-Ann said.
The diver’s sister Candace Bart-
holemew said she was concerned
that the helicopter was not imme-
diately used in the search.
“No air support went up. I
want to know the truth and if
all the proper procedures were
followed. We want honest infor-
mation coming out about what
happened to him,” she said.
Public Relations Officer of the
T&T Coast Guard Lt Sherron Man-
swell confirmed that a search
was on to find the missing diver.
Asked why a helicopter was not
immediately dispatched with the
rescue teams, Manswell said Bart-
holemew had equipment on his
back which could have weighed
him down so it made more sense
to dispatch divers to comb the
sea for him. He said the cur-
rents posed a challenge and the
search had to be abandoned but
it resumed around 3 pm. He said
aerial searches were scheduled to
be done yesterday.
Rescued camper Julie La Rode, who is six-months pregnant, being taken to a
waiting ambulance at the Sangre Grande Recreation Grounds, after being
airlifted from Madamas Bay yesterday.
PICTURE RALPH BANWARIE
Missing commercial air diver
Diver disappears off Gasparee Island
Stranded campers survived
on coconut, fish at Madamas JOEL JULIEN
Is an alternative means of trans-
port on the Tobago airbridge over
Well, if Raymond McMillan has
his way then the answer is yes.
A trip to Tobago may cost twice
as much as you pay now though.
McMillan is the chief executive
officer of Sterling Tobago Airways
Limited, trading as Tobago Air-
ways, and he believes the national
carrier Caribbean Airlines needed
competition on the domestic air-
McMillan is currently looking
for investors to help fund this
For investments of US$100,000
and over returns on investment
are negotiated on a case-by-case
McMillan believes Tobago Air-
ways’ estimated profit after five
years will be around US$19.5 mil-
The initial contract for a plane
will be with Airline Solutions Ltd,
a company registered in the UK.
Social media was abuzz yester-
day when the front page of the
Tobago Airways document seek-
ing investors was shared.
“Something new and exciting
is coming soon,” the document
The T&T Guardian reached out
to McMillan for information on
the venture but he said he was
having a board meeting at the
Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf
According to the Tobago Air-
ways website “something new and
exciting” is coming by March 1.
McMillan is looking for inves-
tors for what he deems a “nec-
essary ‘shift’ in the airbridge
between Trinidad and Tobago
which has been a ‘sour point’ for
over 30 years”.
In recent times issues surround-
ing the Tobago airbridge have
come to the national fore, espe-
cially in light of difficulties expe-
rienced on the seabridge.
CAL recently issued a release
showing that its performance on
the Tobago airbridge has been 86
per cent above industry stand-
ards. The national airline also im-
plemented a $50 change fee for
passengers missing or changing
their confirmed flights.
According to a recent Parlia-
ment Joint Select Committee, 52
per cent of CAL’s flights are op-
erated on the domestic airbridge
and approximately TT$41 million
was allocated for CAL as the sub-
sidy on the airbridge for 2017.
The subsidy does not cover the
entire shortfall between the fare
charged for flights along the air-
bridge, and the cost of running
the air bridge, and therefore,
the route is unprofitable. Return
tickets on CAL for the Tobago
air-bridge cost $300. Tobago Air-
ways tickets are expected to cost
Links Archive January 30th 2018 February 1st 2018 Navigation Previous Page Next Page