BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday July 2, 2019 – The search for two American visitors who disappeared without a trace while jet skiing a week ago, has been called off by local authorities. The United States, which was helping with the search, has also withdrawn its assisting aircraft.
The search by the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Coast Guard and the Regional Security System – later joined by the US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft – began on the afternoon of June 24 after 32-year-old Oscar Suarez and 25-year-old Magdalena Devil, who were visiting from New Jersey, rented a jet ski at a beach on the west coast of the island for a half-hour ride, but never returned. They were last seen on CCTV heading out to sea in a southerly direction.
After the first 72 hours with neither of them being found, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that the search for the couple would be extended another 72 hours, saying her government was doing “all that is humanly possible” to find the Americans.
“We need to literally ensure that we have exhausted every possible opportunity with respect to finding your relatives,” Mottley, addressing the couple’s relatives, said at the time. “I can’t imagine what you are going through now, but please know that the prayers as well as the diligent efforts of the Government of Barbados and all of our law enforcement arms as well as the regional ones with whom we are affiliated will be continuing to work in earnest to find them.”
The US Air Force which had joined the search, did 300 nautical square miles between Barbados and north west of St Vincent and the Grenadines and south west of Martinique; and a further 300 nautical square miles west northwest of Martinique.
But the extended search period ended with no sign of either the visitors, who were wearing life jackets, or the jet ski.
There had been reports over the weekend that the bodies had been found off the coast of St Lucia. But Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds, confirmed that the reports were false .
“I urge you to be mindful of the fact that the couple both have families who are on the island at this point. What they are going through is really unimaginable. It is a tremendous level of personal pain, stress and concern. And, what is really most unhelpful for them, is to be put through the emotional peaks and troughs of a roller coaster based purely on empty speculation and what is largely idle gossip,” he said as he urged the public not to speculate.
The couple’s relatives met with the Prime Minister at her official residence, Ilaro Court, where she expressed regret at their loss, her press secretary Roy Morris said.