Family believes missing soldier still alive

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

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