Businessman believes his boats were destroyed for making complaint to Port Authority

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Businessman believes his boats were destroyed for making complaint to Port Authority
A dejected Earl Lionel.
A dejected Earl Lionel.

The owner of two boats destroyed by fire in Edgewater, Massade, Gros Islet early Saturday morning (July 19), believes the incident was no accident.

Earl Lionel told St. Lucia News Online in an exclusive today that he believes the attack was in retaliation for a complaint he made to the Port Authority last Monday about unlicensed jet ski operators in the Rodney Bay area.

The 52-year-old claimed port officers took action the same day of the complaint.

Lionel, who has been in the boating business since 1979, is convinced that someone tipped off one of the illegal operators about his complaint to the Port Authority.

Lionel said he has no problem with competition but the illegal operators not only cut profits from legitimate businesses, but they also put a negative light on the industry.

He said some of the complaints received are that jet skis are riding too close to yachts, speeding in the marina, “doing 360s”, and riding too close to the beach, among others. He said legal operators are taught professional and security guidelines for use of their vessels, unlike illegal operators.

“There are not there when the problems happen,” he said.

Lionel said on Friday he was approached by a man who cursed him.

Lionel looking at the destroyed boats.

“He was saying a lot of different things to me, but I didn’t say anything to him…. The next day my boats were burned,” he said.

Lionel, who lives at his boat yard, said he was sleeping when he was awoken by an explosion at about 5 a.m.

“When I got up, I came out and I saw the boat was on fire… One boat was on fire and then later the other one caught on fire,” he said, adding that the boats were tied together.

Looking outside from his balcony, Lionel noticed something suspicious.

“I saw two guys moving off outside the marina – just after the boom – on a pirogue (small boat),” he noted.

“They poured gas inside (the boat) and put it on fire.”

The businessman tried to extinguish the flames using a “small hose” until fire officers arrived.

However, despite everyone’s best efforts, the boats were damaged beyond repair.

Lionel lost “Marie”, a 42-foot sports-fishing vessel he bought five years ago. It was valued at about $180,000 USD.

Also lost was a 37-foot yacht Lionel bought only three weeks ago. Valued at about $50,000 USD, Lionel said he was planning to repair the boat and use it for cruises to Soufriere. He had also planned to rename it “Joy”.

None of the boats were insured.

Lionel noted that he was planning to service the larger boat before renewing the insurance, closer to the winter tourist season.

“It’s a really big loss,” he said.

But Lionel’s troubles did not start there. Less than nine hours before the boat fire, he was involved a motor vehicle accident as he was about to enter the main road from the Edgewater junction (near Bank of St. Lucia) at about 8: 45 p.m. Friday.

A Gros Islet Polyclinic ambulance, driving in the northbound lane, ran into the front of his vehicle, damaging the bumper and bulbs.

“The ambulance got right off,” he said.

Lionel escaped unhurt. He said it was his first accident since he began driving about 25 years ago.

But two strokes of what he called bad luck is hurting him emotionally and financially right now.

“This situation shake me up this morning. I am trying to keep myself busy so that I don’t think about it too much. I was driving today and I don’t know why I driving,” he said.

Asked what action he plans to take, Lionel said: “I am looking for justice in the right way. I have gone to the police…. I am going through some hard times right now but I will let the police do their proper investigations. I leave it up to the police.”

Police are investigating the fire.

 

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14 COMMENTS

  1. WHAT GOES AROUND MUST COMES AROUND. YOU MIGHT BE THE ONE TO GIVE THEM A PLATE OF FOOD IN THE NEAR FUTURE.I JUST DON'T WANT TO BE IN THEIR SHOES. WHO LAUGH LAST LAUGH THE BEST. I DON'T KNOW YOU BUT YOU WILL SURELY HAVE THE LAST LAUGH.

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  2. Hi Earl, I have known you a long time and always been fair to me. Standing up for what is right in this day and age, seems to attract evil. Still, don't let the negative forces put you off. On not being insured, you will have to deal with not having the boats covered. There is a God and we must try an operate as he intended. Be blessed my brother.

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  3. I think it is a travesty what happened to this man. In these trying times, to have invested so while heartedly in what he imagined to be a future: only to be wronged in this manner. We embrace the negative so easily: whi the hell is this "snitching" frowned upon? Why the hell can't we as a society not swallow wholesale all that the red, white & blue spit out? He did indicate that these illegal operators were doing an injustice to the industry. Should he have waited till another sea user dies? I pray that some resolution comes the way of this matter. I pray that justice is served. I pray that the perpetrators (if any) are found and prosecuted. God save us..

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  4. I feel for the man just trying to earn a living. Someone said something about a snitch???? That's the problem in st Lucia we don't want to work within the laws just do what we want regardless if the rest are straight. Strange though the kind of money you spent on those vessels hefty amounts but no insurance?? Did a bank actually finance such a project without covering asses, or I take it you bought your boats cash? Of curse the man who had words with you is a prime suspect, let's see where this goes!

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  5. Three flying fire something just came falling on the boat. On fell in the water ,the other two on the boat. One fell just a little while before the fire engine. When I called 911 the fire engine was three like 5 minutes after I placed the call. One thing of fire fell in the water and the other 2 on the boat it self. These people has to pay because hurting someone like this is a very painful and sinful thing to do. We were at happy day bar . I'm not the only one who saw it .I placed the

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  6. Sorry this happened to you. It just goes to show that we have many satanic and evil dwellers in our country. The authorities really can't be trusted. Don't stress because their turn will soon come and their troubles will be tripled.

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  7. Earl could be a nice guy....but very sneaky sometimes.....sometimes wants the whole beach to his self sometimes

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  8. Mr Lionel always remember who Jah bless no man curse,you will survive my brother. There something name Karma and it's a [email protected]#$%&* that person will pay mercilessly,I feel your pain all the best to you.

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  9. This is a strange but sad case...I think he meant good by making a complaint but then again he did something that's frowned upon nowadays...& that's Snitching!!

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  10. Oh my brother, i feel for you and can only imagine your financial and emotional state at this time HOWEVER if you are a legitimate business owner running down the illegal operators you should know better than to own and operator an UNINSURED vessel.

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