WATCH: Search continues for missing teen in Westmoreland river as fishermen protest
WESTMORELAND, Jamaica— The search continues for 18-year-old Juine ‘Junior’ McKoy who authorities believe drowned after he ran into difficulties while swimming with friends at the Cabarita River, in Big Bridge, Little London in Westmoreland on Monday evening.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Shaunjaye Mitchell said the cops have been providing support to find McKoy’s body in the river, but there were some challenges on Wednesday which hampered members of the Coast Guard from diving.
“The police are here, we have conducted some search operations. We have sent for an independent diver who is willing to go into the river and conduct further searches. Members of the Coast Guard were here earlier today and provided some support but, unfortunately, were unable to dive based on the current circumstances in the area. The Marine police also provided some support yesterday and will continue the ongoing search for this young man,” DSP Mitchell said.
The circumstance that Mitchell is referring to is a small roadblock that fishermen in the area mounted demanding that authorities continue to search for McKoy’s body in the river, as they believe that should the body remain missing, the livelihood of the fisherfolk will be affected.
“We don’t want no dead body in the river. We want the man dem come search and take up the dead body out of the river. We fish dem go all over the whole world so we want dem to come take him out of the river because we don’t want the fish eat him. We want them come search the river and take the little youth out of the river, which is right because everybody deserve a proper burial. Because right now this ago stop we flow and mash up we ting and is we livelihood this,” one fisherman told Observer Online.
Police and residents of the area searched the waters for the 18-year-old’s body on Monday following the incident, and all-day Tuesday, to no avail.
DSP Mitchell is urging the residents to be patient, adding that the search-and-rescue operation has to be done strategically.
“We have been here with the residents providing support so we just want to urge residents to be patient as we conduct the operations. This type of search-and-rescue operation has to be done strategically and we have to ensure that we follow protocols, we follow the advice of persons who are experts in the area. Now when the independent diver gets here we will continue the search operation. Hopefully we will come up with something today,” DSP Mitchell said.
Ian Myles, Councillor of the Little London Division and Deputy Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, has described the incident as unfortunate while extending condolences to the McKoy family.
“It is a very unfortunate situation that we have lost the life of a young man who presumably was having a bath here and just jumped off to get a swim, unfortunately he cannot swim and because of the heavy terrain and heavy flow of the water, it created difficulty for him which sadly, we lost him. I want to utter my deepest condolences and sympathies to the bereaved family at this time,” Myles said.
He went on to commend community members for their bravery as many people in the area have made multiple attempts to find McKoy over the last two days.
“The challenge that we are having now is that we are unable to find the body as such we want to commend the citizens here for their bravery. They have been here for the last two days diving relentlessly to try and identify the carcass of the young man. Today we have not seen any success,” Myles said.
He added that attempts were made to get diving experts from Negril to aid in the search but they were unsuccessful. In the meantime, an independent diver in the area volunteered to search one part of the river with hopes that McKoy’s body is there.
“We would have tried to reach out to divers additionally from Negril, some of those experts from Negril we are unsuccessful but at this time we are lucky that another resident here who would have been an experienced diver overtime he is getting ready to comb the area that has not be combed so we are hoping that we will be successful in identifying the body of this young man,” Myles told Observer Online.