As Vieux Fort families mourn, death of fishermen raises boat safety awareness

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As Vieux Fort families mourn, death of fishermen raises boat safety awareness
Vereen Joseph
Leah Mingo (left) and Vereen Joseph (right)

A few days after the families of the two missing Vieux-Fort fishermen expressed confidence that the men were alive, they received the heartbreaking news that they had perished.

Jermaine Edward, 33, and boat captain Mervin Gilbert, 42, left the Vieux-Fort Fishing Port sometime after 7 a.m. on Thursday, March 1 on a fishing expedition, and had not returned as expected.

After the men had left the port, it was observed that their fishing vessel was not equipped with adequate safety equipment. They not even took their cell phones with them.

On Monday, the men were found dead in their fishing vessel by the US Coast Guard, 76 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.

42-year-old boat captain Mervin Gilbert and 33-year-old Jermaine Edward

However, despite their concerns, days before hearing of the missing men’s demise, the grief-stricken family told this reporter in separate interviews, that they felt the men were still adrift on sea and will be rescued. They said their hopes were kept alive because of their faith in God and the fact that fishermen have stayed adrift longer at sea than the missing men and were still found alive.

“I strongly believe my boyfriend is still alive…. and I will continue praying,” Vereen Joseph, Gilbert’s girlfriend with whom she has two children, told this reporter in an interview, days before receiving the sad news of her boyfriend’s demise.

Leah Mingo, Edward’s girlfriend, said she too felt her boyfriend is still alive and will be rescued.

Since they received the shocking news, the heartbroken families have been struggling to come to terms with the harsh reality.

John Isidore, Gilbert’s uncle, said the death of his nephew has left the entire family devastated.

“Everybody is crying. We can’t sleep…,” he grieved.

When this reporter visited some of the other family members who were visibly overwhelmed with sorrow, they said they were too devastated to speak on the incident.

According to information coming from the Department of Fisheries, the men were genuine fishermen, and their fishing vessel was registered with the department.

Fishermen of Vieux-Fort have ruled out the possibility that the boat may have experienced mechanical problems, because according to them, the boat has a new engine.

The incident has raised awareness among fishermen of the importance of going to sea with most of the safety equipment which the Department of Fisheries requires a boat owner to have before being issued with a boat license.

Among some of the safety equipment a boat owner must have before being issued with a boat license includes two night flares, a compass, a reflective mirror, waterproof flashlights, water containers, life jackets, radar reflectors and a sail.

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  1. if this is not the coast guards job then i believe so sort of search and rescue could be deployed just for helping lost people at sea the same way the coast guard looks for drug dealers and other illegal things which they seem to be getting in an instance apart from lost people at sea before they die.

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