KINGSTON: The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) has called for a complete ban on jet skis in certain resort areas following the death of an American tourist last week.
Thomas Torres Castillo, 53, of Las Vegas, was struck by a Jet Ski as he was swimming at the Travellers Beach Hotel in the tourist resort town of Negril. He died shortly after the incident.
JHTA President, Evelyn Smith, believes the ban should be implemented until a solution is found.
“The sentiment of the members is that everything needs to come off the waters until we are satisfied that we can enforce the whole situation, then one can look at determining specific areas,” she said. “It cannot be where people are swimming, it has to be miles away, where there is no danger to human life.”
In the aftermath of the accident, stakeholders in Negril have renewed a call for the establishment of a hospital to readily handle emergency matters.
“In a resort town where we have people coming from all over the world, we need emergency services,” said Elaine Bradley, a retired intensive-care nurse. “We can save a life in the first few minutes after an accident if you have first responders who are trained or qualified.”
Assistant Superintendent of the Marine Police, Adrian Hamilton has outlined a plan of action to be undertaken by the police and given recommendations he believes will alleviate the problem.
“We plan to continue our operations, it is an issue for us that has never died, it’s at the forefront of our plans,” said Hamilton. “I think that there are some other measures that must be considered such as the total banning of the jet skis, we should also look at a new licensing regime.”
The police have reported that a suspect has been held in connection with the Jet Ski crash. According to Hamilton, the suspect was recently taken to court for illegally operating a water craft machine.
“On January 9, he was charged for not having a license and for not having an insurance certificate and he was also fined several thousand dollars,” he said.
In recent months, several complaints have been made about Jet Skis being operated in areas reserved for swimming.
Last August, Tonoya Hyman, 6, was killed after being struck by a Jet Ski operated by a tourist. Her four-year-old sister was also injured.
The incident prompted the Ministry of Tourism to institute a six-month ban on the importation of jet skis last October.