The salvaged boat which was transporting the illegal migrants
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
One of the passengers who survived the boat accident that left eight Haitians dead at Brandywine Bay in 2010, testified in court today, October 25, giving a horrific recount of the ordeal.
Gerdie Ravix, a native of Haiti who lost both her 4 year-old son and sister following the accident, said she saw them three days later at the morgue. Her son, Mikey Delicieux was her only child.
"After they [Coast Guard] took us to Waterfront and from there to Detention Centre...Three days after they took me to the morgue and I saw my son and then my sister...They couldn't even show me the head of my son; it looked like a fish eat it," a tearful Ravix told the court.
The men on trial are Haitian natives, Roro Edourne and Renold Plasimond. They are jointly charged with eight counts of manslaughter and one count of smuggling migrants.
It is alleged that Edourne captained the boat carrying the illegal migrants which ran aground on a reef near Brandywine Bay and resulted in the deaths, while Plasimond was a conspirator in the smuggling of the migrants.
It is alleged that Edourne captained the 35 foot power boat carrying some 30 persons from St. Maarten to St. Thomas; however, while on that journey they were spotted by US Coast Guard who attempted to intercept the boat. In his efforts to evade the authorities, the boat collided on a reef in the BVI.
During examination in chief, which was led by Prosecutor Valston Graham, Ravix told her story and stated that she lived in Dominica for two years and the moved on to St. Maarten for six months with her sister.
She said in St. Maarten she was living with her sister, but was not working; hence, they made a decision to leave St. Maarten and head to St. Thomas. She said her sister made the arrangements for the move to St. Thomas, including paying for her.
The woman, speaking through an interpreter, said on Sunday, December 5, 2010, a vehicle came for them with two men, but she was not familiar with the driver. She said she saw the other man from before and identified him as Edourne.
She said they were taken to a bushy area at the shoreline and then they all jumped from the rocks onto the boat. Ravix said the boat was very tiny.
The woman said about five to ten minutes after the boat left the area, a plane flew over them and the captain immediately told them to bow their heads. She said everyone was sitting and complied with the captain's order.
"We didn't know what was happening...No I cannot swim...I didn't know what life jacket was...When he told us that, you know he speed up and everybody starting getting wet and I starting telling myself if I knew it was like this I wouldn't be on this trip...There were no lights on the boat...Only inside the boat some people had some phones and they turned on the phones...When the boat start speeding up and getting wet, then it go on the reef and the boat sank," she related.
The woman said after the boat hit the reef, along with her sister and son, she stayed onboard, "because I know if I jump out I could have died...Me, my son and my sister stayed onboard...All the passengers just jump in the sea...When everybody got off the boat and jumped in the sea, we were still in the boat, but the wave in the water just pushed us out."
Roro Edourne and Renold Plasimond
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Ravix told the court that she held on to the rail of the boat and took her son, placing him back on the boat.
"And me and my sister go in the water...When I was going down, I tried to come up two times, but I found a bag and I held on to the bag...When I was holding down on the bag, I felt my arms start hurting me and I saw a gallon of gas and then I tried to hold on to it. Then I found a rope and I kept the rope...While I was holding on the rope, the boat turned over, then I went on the rock... After then, I didn't see my sister neither my son...Everybody was on their own trying to save themselves...The Coast Guard said we will come to assist you...They came for us and then took us," she said.
Ravix in response to a question said that the other guy in boat, who prosecution said was Plasimond, was not doing anything; however, he told them that he came on the trip to help the captain.
She also related to the court that they did not walk with any travel documents. "They told us if we walk with them they would be wet."
Plasimond is represented by lawyer, Patrick Thompson and Edourne is represented through legal aid by Ruthilia Maximea. At the start of the trial yesterday, Edourne did not have a lawyer.
The trial continues.