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|Liberia Maritime Authority Offers Details into Cadet’s Drowning, Shooting Rumors||| Print ||
|Written by Joseph N. Boakai, Jr., Director of Administration, Liberia Maritime Authority|
|Friday, 05 October 2012 16:52|
Monrovia - In the aftermath of the recent death at sea of four promising cadets at the Liberia Maritime Authority Academy, Monrovia has been abuzz with speculations and rumors regarding how the cadets arrived at their deaths.
On Friday, October 5, 2012, Commissioner Binyah Kesselly and a team of senior executives at the LMA including Deputy for Administration Mr. Joseph Boakai Sr. held a news briefing in the Charles Gbenyon Press Conference room at the Ministry of Information in Monrovia.
The LMA clarified among things the LMA’s handling of the incident, reported incident involving an alleged shooting between Commissioner Kesselly’s bodyguards and a member of one of the deceased family and a host of other issues surrounding the incident at Musa’s Beach. Below is the full text of a statement read on behalf of the LMA by Deputy Commissioner for Administration Mr. Joseph Boakai.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we are here today, to clarify speculations surrounding the drowning, on September 27, 2012, of four of our newly recruited Search and Rescue (SAR) cadets at the Musa Beach in Paynesville. We thank God that the bodies of our friends and co-workers have since been recovered.
This hopefully, will assist us all, especially their immediate families, in bringing closure to this tragedy. It is our hope and prayer that this Press Briefing will finally clear the air of wild speculations circulating in The media and the public at large.
Cadets J. Eddie Wilson (29 years old), George K. Reed (30 years old), Patrick M. Asumana (26 years old) and Henry D. Bryant (39 years old), were employed on August 1, 2012, after successfully passing a 90-day vetting and recruitment process by the Liberia Maritime Authority.
These men and their colleagues were selected from more than 160 applicants, to form part of what eventually would be the Nation’s first ever Maritime Search and Rescue Team.
Though the recruitment process sought 30 persons, only 13 qualified from this initial batch of over 160 applicants.
The local component of their training was divided into two phases, both In preparation for the actual search and Rescue (SAR) training, which would be done abroad, since Liberia does not have the capacity to conduct such training (SAR).
Phase 1, which commenced August 1, 2012, required the cadets to be present at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex Monday to Friday, from 7am to 9am for physical exercises, which included push‐ups, running, sit‐ups, and stretches; and from 4pm to 6pm at the Maritime Headquarters for academic exercises, which included basic skills in technical writing.
The intent of this phase, which was to end on September 28, 2012, was to ensure that the cadets remained physically and mentally fit to better prepare them for their anticipated training abroad.
Thereafter, They would have commenced Phase 2 of the program at the facilities of the Liberia Marine Training Institute (LMTI) in Marshall City, Margibi County, on Monday October 1, 2012.
At the LMTI, they would have participated in International Maritime Organization (IMO) mandatory short courses namely; • Personal Survival Techniques (A--‐VI/1--‐1); • Fire Prevention and Basic Fire Fighting (A--‐VI/1--‐2); • Elementary First Aid (A--‐VI/1--‐3); and • Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities (A--‐VI/1--‐4).
We Wish to state emphatically, that NO PART OF THE CADETS’ TRAINING HERE IN LIBERIA WOULD HAVE REQUIRED SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN, AND PROFICIENCY IN SWIMMING IS NOT A REQUIREMENT OR PRE--‐REQUISITE AT THIS STAGE IN THEIR DEVELOPMENT.
Whenever any Component of our training programs requires water safety instructions, we train in a controlled environment, under the supervision and instruction of licensed and certified personnel, using all relevant Safety gear.
Over the years, we have used the swimming pools at Quelu Farms in Careysburg and the Krystal Ocean View Hotel in Mamba Point to train more than 100 persons, incident free.
Regrettably, it is only after this tragedy that we discovered that it was not uncommon for some of the cadets, upon completion of their morning physical exercises, to spend time together doing assignments and socializing, and that occasionally they would go to a beach or simply hangout at a fellow cadet’s home. These were adults and what they did with their private time away from the required schedule was
Their prerogative and not subject to authorization or supervision by the Liberia Maritime Authority; Maritime accounts for only four hours of their day (7:00am – 9:00am & 4:00pm – 6:00pm) from Monday to Friday.
As much as we regret this truly unfortunate event, we must state unequivocally that Maritime did not require or sanction their presence at the beach on that fateful day or any other day.
The death of these cadets will forever be etched upon our hearts and memory. In an earlier Press Release, we begged the public to exhibit sensitivity towards their families, both immediate and extended, as they mourn their loss. We thank the many who have sent their condolences and respected this call. However, as usual there will be those who thrive on mischief, misinformation and inflammatory statements. Some
Have suggested that we were aware that the cadets were going to the beaches. This is absolutely untrue as the cadets were specifically discouraged from swimming at this phase of their training.
Maritime understands the dangers of the ocean, especially at this time of the year. In fact, meetings were held with owners of beaches around Monrovia in August and September 2012, where Beach owners were informed of Maritime’s decision to prohibit swimming at their facilities until trained lifeguards and other safety measures could be put in place.
Others have been wicked and malicious enough to suggest that we took the cadets out to sea in a boat and required them to swim back to shore.
Again, this perception is false and has no iota of truth! As stated earlier, no portion of our program required this kind of training.
Furthermore, as Maritime is also mourning the loss of these four cadets, the Acting Chairman of the Board of Directors, Hon. Debar W. Allen, Commissioner Binyah C. Kesselly and some Senior Members of the Liberia Maritime Authority visited with the families of the deceased to extend heartfelt condolences.
We thank all of the families for allowing us into their homes to share in their grief and extend our condolences.
On the evening of September 30, 2012, the Commissioner and his delegation, which included Deputy Commissioner Charles Gono, & Rev. Dr. Lincoln Brownell, visited the grieving mother and family members of the late Cadet J. Eddie Wilson in Clara Town.
While leaving the family’s home After the visit, the Maritime Delegation was attacked by an angry mob led by Isaac Wilson & Junior Wilson, throwing blocks, stones and bricks at the Maritime delegation. The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner sustained injuries as a result of this attack.
Such unprovoked actions are purely the result of misinformation by schemers and evil - minded individuals who would go to all lengths to create chaos - and this must be discouraged. We would like to extend our appreciation to those members of the Wilson family who acted responsibly by aiding the Commissioner and team to escape with their lives. Contrary to what has been circulating on the broadcast and print media, at no time during this ugly incident were any firearms present or fired by any member of the Maritime delegation.
This is another clear example of the danger of lies, misinformation and inflammatory statements. Again, we call on the public at large, to please allow these families and co-- ‐workers of our fallen cadets to be left to grieve peacefully, as they prepare to inter the remains of their love ones. Keeping this story alive especially in a negative manner does none of us, more so their loved ones, any good.
We commend our National Coast Guard and the Liberia National Police for their management of these events. May the hand of the Almighty God receive the souls of our fallen cadets, and cause peace and love to reign in our hearts as a Nation and People.
Joseph N. Boakai, Jr.