Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dad recalls son’s accident

SIX years after his son, Yanik Quesnel, was confined to a wheelchair after being hit by a boat in Pigeon Point, Tobago, Bernard Quesnel has deemed it “sad” that regulations were not yet in place making it mandatory for people wishing to operate a boat to possess a licence.

Quesnel, in a telephone interview yesterday, spoke in the wake of the boating accident at Las Cuevas last Saturday, in which 14-year-old Lilly Blades was fatally struck by the propeller of a pirogue being driven by a 21-year-old fisherman.

Blades, a Third Form pupil at the El Dorado West Secondary School, was said to have been about 25 feet from shore and was in the process of swimming towards her group, when the boat, heading north and parallel to the shoreline, came into contact with her.

The pilot of the boat has since been arrested and remains in custody at the Maracas Bay Police Station. 

Extending condolences to the relatives and friends of Blades on his family’s behalf, Quesnel said, “I can’t say that I share their grief because I still have my son, but I do understand some of what they are going through right now.” 

Yanik Quesnel was 17 in 2007 when he and his girlfriend at the time, Ana Carolina Barry-Laso, then 16, who was visiting from her native Spain, were struck by a pirogue at Pigeon Point.

Both remained in critical condition for some time.  

Yanik has since been in a wheelchair and still undergoing physical therapy in the hopes of one day being able to walk again. Barry-Laso is said to be coping, Bernard Quesnel said.

Yanik is also a student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus, where he is “doing well”.

“What I have to say now is much of what I had to say six years ago,” Quesnel said, “That it is only logical that regulations be in place for the operations of boats, much as they are for the operation of vehicles on the road.

“One should have a licence to drive a boat and at a certain age. And this would include such accessories as proper insurance, so that in the event of an incident, there is recourse.”

Quesnel said the young pilot of the pirogue that killed Blades should perhaps be made to engage in lengthy community service.

Quesnel said nothing appears to have changed since his son’s accident in spite of what should be some glaring practical steps to preventing further tragedy.

He said he was not yet sure, up to yesterday evening, whether his son had heard of Blades’s accident.