The family of Cpl Gerald James, who went missing at sea last Friday, believes he is still alive and claims not enough is being done to find him.
James was last seen on Friday morning when he left on a fishing trip with two other men, Roger Perreira and brother-in-law Joseph Watson. His wife, Rayheb James, said she believed in her heart that he is still alive.
“I honestly believe that . . . that he is still alive and he ain’t dead nowhere. He’s a strong man, he’s a fighter. If he hit bush, he will survive and he smart. He would survive. He could swim. He militant, he very, very militant. He had that in him,” she said.
However, she said their 20-year-old son was is James’ disappearance the hardest.
“The bigger one believing he father coming home today, they go find him,” she said.
James’ brother-in-law, Joseph Watson, who accompanied him on the trip said they were on a routine fishing trip off the Carenage coast when disaster struck, beginning with the passing of the TT Spirit.
“We went out there to set a net. We went out, we set the net. We say we would have start picking up the net around 12 o’clock. We end up picking it up a little later than that. We start about one o’clock so,” he said.
He said they had almost finished pulling in the net when the TT Spirit passed nearby and the vessel’s wake shook their boat causing the net to become entangled in their engine and leading to its subsequent failure. He said the repeated battering of the small fishing pirogue by the TT Spirit’s wake caused the boat to capsize.
“From the minute our boat cut off, about two minutes after that it sink. James—soldier man—he hold on to a small cooler, an orange and white cooler. Me and the next man, Chris (Roger) Perreira, we hold on to the grey bin what the fish does be in.
“We hold on to that, he hold on one side and I hold on the next side and we start to float together.”
Watson said James decided to separate from the group in search of help from nearby vessels. The last time the men heard James’ voice was after dusk when he shouted to a passing boat for assistance. The boat, however, did not hear their cries for help.
Watson and Perreira floated in the waters near the northwestern coastline until they reached an inlet near the third Bocas. They spent several hours flagging down passing vessels to no avail.
Later in the evening, the men decided to climb over the hilly terrain to the side facing Chacachacare where there is heavier vessel traffic.
“We end up spending the night on top and early Saturday morning we start to walk over the mountain again. When we reach over the mountain to Chacachacare side we flag down a boat coming in. That was the CDA police and they stop and bring we ashore to the Coast Guard,” he said.
Watson said they did not get any medical treatment from the Coast Guard and when the police arrived they were treated like criminals.
James’ wife also said she was dissatisfied with the Coast Guard’s handling of the search for her husband. She said they were not trying hard enough and were preventing her husband’s co-workers at the TT Defense Force from joining in to assist.
Coast Guard officials contacted on the issue have so far not commented.
- by Rishard Khan