Man drowns on Statia while picking whelks from rocks

ST. EUSTATIUS–A 57-year-old man drowned Saturday morning after being swept out to sea by rough waves in the Venus Bay area in St. Eustatius.
Together with another man, Anthony Recardo “Anto” Bunitin, who was born in Curaçao, was picking whelks from the rocks along the seashore at Venus Bay around 4:30am.

Around 9:00am, one of the men showed up at Zeelandia with some cuts and bruises and reported that his friend and colleague had slipped from the rocks while picking whelks and was subsequently swept into the sea by big rough waves.
The police was notified which led to a coordinated multidisciplinary search and rescue operation, which involved amongst others the St. Eustatius Police Department, Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, the St. Eustatius Fire Department, Queen Beatrix Medical Centre, Coast Guard, the harbour official, and the marine/diver department of NuStar Statia Terminal.
A local fisherman with his boat, the Medivac helicopter, and other volunteers from the local dive shop and citizens also participated in the search for the missing person in the remote area on the northern side of the island.
The first search team arrived at Venus Bay around 10:15am by quads the authorities had borrowed from volunteers for the search and rescue operation.
The first search and rescue team on board the local fishing boat, with police officers, private citizens, and a dive-shop diver arrived by sea around 10:40am.
In the meantime, the members of the shore team took a position from an elevated position along the shoreline and spotted an unidentified object floating underwater. They directed the rescue team on board the fishing boat to the location.
The water in the cove area at Venus Bay was, however, too rough and dangerous for the fishing boat to investigate the object. Captain Woodley steered his boat as close as he could without endangering the lives on board, after which the diver dove into the water and retrieved the lifeless body.
The body was taken to Charles A. Woodley Pier in Gallows Bay where the doctor on duty officially pronounced Bunitin’s death.
A preliminary medical review of the body by the doctor and the police determined that there was no indication of foul play visible on the body. The police also surveyed the area of the incident, including the area where the witness had indicated that the victim fell into the sea, and also found no indication of foul play there.
The incident was thus deemed an accident. After consulting with the Prosecutor, the body was released to the family of the deceased.
Friends and family of the deceased and a group of onlookers had gathered at the Medical Centre. Some family members of the deceased became very emotional after viewing the body.
Bunitin has been residing for many years in Jeems. He worked as a mason and took part in many construction projects on the island.

Source: The Daily Herald