Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum
transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast
are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers,
we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English
There has been a fatal accident on the Northern Highway. It happened just before 6:00 this evening at mile 7 on the Northern Highway. Our team is currently on the scene, and all we can confirm at this time is that two persons are dead after a head on collision involving a motorcycle and a BTB pickup. Traffic on the highway is completely blocked so the traffic jam on this Friday evening currently stretches for miles.
Mike Rudon, Ch 5 "Sir could you give me an idea of what you saw? I know that you were right behind the accident when it happened."
Eye Witness "I saw the cycle fly passed me and hit into a black truck on the side of the road. When it hit the black truck it cut away right into a BTB vehicle and right up in the air and flat on the ground."
Mike Rudon, Ch 5 "It seems that the BTB truck was on its side just from looking at it. Was the cycle overtaking or did it lose control when it knock the black vehicle?"
Eye Witness "It overtake the black truck and hit the mirror on the black truck and then it went over to the left and the BTB truck look like it was trying to get out of the way off the road, but it still hit him."
Mike Rudon, Ch 5 "Could you tell from what you saw if death was instantaneous from the cycle?"
Eye Witness "When the thing happen, I got out of my car and the one in the middle of road looks like he was dead, but the one on the fence was breathing for a while and then he stops and then we thought that he must have died too."
Mike Rudon, Ch 5 "I guess it massive head and body injuries."
Eye Witness "The one on the road, his whole face looks like it got torn off, he was face down and blood was coming out. The next one on the side over there didn't look like he was burst up but it looks like his feet were broken up."
Mike Rudon, Ch 5 "About what time you say that this happen?"
Eye Witness "Around 5:30 I would say because I was i Publics about 5:17 and I came straight up."
Reporter "How fast were they going?"
Eye Witness "I don't know. They just fly pass me fast. I wouldn't be a person to say how fast they were going. I would say that I don't know."
We'll have more on this double fatality later on in the newscast.
Early this morning, 28 year old school teacher Stephen John Michael was found dead in his house which is off Faber's Road Extension. His family believes it was murder: they say that he had been robbed and clubbed in the head. 7News was at the scene around 8:00 am and we found out more:..
Steven John Michael Sr., Father of Deceased "I found my son on his bed dead."
Robin Schaffer reporting
Early this morning Michael made the discovery no father ever wants to face. A neighbor called to his attention that the door to his son Steven Jr.'s home on Jaguar Avenue was wide open. Steven Sr lives just behind his son and so he went in to check:
Steven John Michael Sr., Father of Deceased "I didn't see any physical injury. He was bleeding, I can't say though his nose, but he was on his back and you could see a spot of blood behind his head in his bedroom. I feel like they chance my son and I am not afraid to say it because certain stuff is missing from out of the house. As I get in I could see the TV missing, the laptop, the phone and his wallet are missing. All I could say is that they chance my son."
Jules Vasquez "Do you believe that it was burglars who came in?"
Steven John Michael Sr., Father of Deceased "I don't think it was burglars. It was somebody that he knew because he had to let them in the house. There wasn't a force entry, so somebody he had in the house last night."
Police are now trying to find who that visitor or visitors may have been. They believe Steven Michael was killed in the wee hours of the morning, possibly around two or three am.
Steven John Michael Sr., Father of Deceased "As far as I know he didn't have any enemies. I don't know if somebody out there doesn't like the way he is living because sometime people doesn't like the way you live."
Just five days ago, on a facebook post Michael alluded to that, referring to people who judged him. His father agrees:
Steven John Michael Sr., Father of Deceased "You live your own life and sometime people doesn't like to see the way you live."
Now this teacher at St. Ephesus 7th. Day Adventist School becomes the second male from Ephesus to be killed in a week. The other was Oscar Lambey, a preacher in training at the church:
Reporter "Someone was killed around the place where your son worked. Do you feel this may be in any way related?"
Steven John Michael Sr., Father of Deceased "No, I don't think so. I think there is no relation."
And everyone in the neighborhood we spoke to agreed that this 28 year old was a kind and gentle man:
Savannah Williams, Cousin of Deceased "I knew Steven not as a trouble person. He is the best guy ever. Always willing to talk to you, all your problems."
Neighbor "As far as I know he didn't have any problems with anybody. He is a very kind person, willing to help, willing to give."
Savannah Williams, Cousin of Deceased "This really hurts my heart a lot to see what happen because......."
As you saw in that interview with his father, he believes that Stephen Michael was killed in his own house. That suspicion is based on his conclusion that his television, his wallet, and his cellular phone were all stolen.
This morning the Police Press Office released a statement saying that foul play was suspected, but that apparently changed 3 hours later. Police investigators who are handling the case, aren't so sure, and today they told us that the case is being treated as a sudden death for now:
Sgt. Robert Novelo, OC - CIB Precinct 2 "So far the investigation is in its preliminary stage and we cannot say at this time whether its a murder and we could classified it as a sudden death at this time."
Mike Rudon, Ch5 "Could you tell us what police found when they were called to the scene?"
Sgt. Robert Novelo, OC - CIB Precinct 2 "Police found Mr. Steven John Michael, 28 years of age, he was lying on his bed inside is bedroom."
Reporter "However there were signs that blood was coming from his mouth?"
Sgt. Robert Novelo, OC - CIB Precinct 2 "Yes, blood was seen coming from his mouth."
Reporter "No other visible signs of injuries?"
Sgt. Robert Novelo, OC - CIB Precinct 2 "No visible signs of injuries."
Mike Rudon, Ch5 "We understand that was also a lot of blood under his head. Did you all notice if there was any injury to his head? Any cut, any kind of wound?"
Sgt. Robert Novelo, OC - CIB Precinct 2 "We did not observe any injury as I have mentioned."
Mike Rudon, Ch5 "Could you tell us what has turn up so far from questioning of his neighbors? Did anybody hear anything?"
Sgt. Robert Novelo, OC - CIB Precinct 2 "So far we have canvassed the area and so far we have not gotten any information about that incident."
Police have no suspects at this time, but have spoken with the last known friend to see Michael, and he said they left BTL park at 10:00 pm, and then Michael sent him a text an hour later to say he had a headache. That was the last he heard from his friend.
Police foiled a major extortion attempt with a sting operation.
23 year-old Edwin Flores, allegedly tried to blackmail a businessman and extort him of $8,000, and tonight, he and his girlfriend are at the Belize Central prison for it.
The complainant, Wilbert Valencia, a business man from Orange Walk Town, reported to police that on Tuesday, Flores contacted him and demanded that he hand over $8,000 dollars or else, a member of his family would be killed.
In view of what happened in Orange Walk recently with Ramon Cervantes Sr, you can guess how this would cause quite a scare.
Valencia told police of the extortion attempt, and the cops set up a sting operation where police waited at the Lord Ridge Cemetery. That's the location that Valencia's blackmailer demanded that he deliver the money.
A 15 year-old girl went to the location to pick up the cash, police followed her to the King's Park area, and when she delivered the package to Flowers, police moved in and detained both of them. Flores was charged with blackmail, while the minor was charged with abetment to blackmail.
They were both arraigned before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, and due to the objections of the police prosecutor, they were denied bail. Flores was remanded to the Belize Central Prison. His girlfriend is a Guatemalan with no immigration status here, and so she was remanded to the Youth Hostel. She also ordered that that police take Flores to the Hospital because he claimed in court that police beat him while he was in custody. They will be taken back to court on September 16.
Hattieville Chairman Kevin Carcamo has been missing for 5 days, and though the intense searches have been fruitless, the civilian and military authorities have not given up. But now, the company that Carcamo was employed with is offering a reward to anyone who can assist them to find and return Carcamo safely.
Discover-seis Geophysicial Services released this flyer today in which they are offering a $10,000 dollar reward to anyone who can provide them with information which leads to the authorities finding Carcamo alive.
As we've reported he was last seen in the Freetown Sibun are of Hattieville with his work crew on Sunday. He reported to work, but he didn't return with them at the end of the day.
Anyone with information is asked to contact crimestoppers, the nearest police station or telephone number 610-1497.
7News has confirmed that there are 4 Belizean Prisoners who arrived at the Belize Central Prison this afternoon after being transferred from a Mexican Jail.
The transfer took place this afternoon where the Mexican Authorities transported these persons to the Belize Mexico Border. They were all convicted of Firearm offences in that country, and they've served out a part of their 10 year prison sentences. The reason that these prisoners were allowed to be transferred is because they made the request to the Mexicans who have a longstanding arrangement with Belize, which is known as the Agreement between the Government of Belize and the Government of the Mexican United States on the Execution of Penal Sentences.
The transfer was only made possible after a lengthy process of application through the Foreign Affairs Ministry of both Governments, and it was overseen today by Belizean Ambassador Said Guerra, a Consular and Protocol Officer within the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
US Capital Energy, the Government, and Mayan Communities of the South have been ordered to participate in court-ordered mediation, but the oil company isn't waiting around: it announced today that it should be ready to start drilling within a months' time.
A press release from the company says that the first 8 truckloads of their oil rig equipment have arrived at the Temash 2 Drill site. Dr. Mike Tewes, US Capital's Health, Safety and Environment Officer has been on the ground overseeing the assembly of the rig.
There will a total of 52 truckloads of rig equipment, and the company estimates that they will complete its assembly in 2 to 3 weeks' time.
Because they are now dealing with dangerous equipment on the ground at the Temash 2 Drill Pad, Dr. Tewes spoke with us via telephone and implored members of the public not to make unauthorized trips unto the site because their health could be put at risk.
Dr. Michael Tewes, Health Safety Envir. Manager - US Capital "US Capital is advising the public that the first convoy of trucks, 8 trucks entered our location from the Mexican border with the drill rig that will be setup at the Temash 2 drill site in Toledo. We also met yesterday with the Toledo Alcalde Association leadership to discuss the concerns raised by the alcaldes and we also gave them a tour of the site and describe to them all the environmental mitigation that the company has put in place to ensure that no environmental occurs at that location. As well we reached an agreement with the alcaldes to keep them updated on the progress we made of the site so that they can be kept abreast of all the activities."
"At the same time we address the issue of safety at the worksite and the need for proper authorization to enter that site. We will ensure that when possible we can give the association leaders a visit to the site properly accustomed by safety personnel to ensure their personal safety. This concern is now a real one since they will be working with heavy equipment and proper safety procedures that must be adhere to. We would also like to advise the general public that this is a dangerous worksite if proper protocols are not followed and we strongly advised that no unauthorized or illegal visits must be made to the site."
Daniel Ortiz "What will happen in the event any of the Mayan communities from the south decide that they will defy the advice of the company and make unauthorized entries onto the drill site?"
Dr. Michael Tewes "Well that's why we are advising people. The government has told us that we can proceed with our work and the government will be looking and assisting in the event of any activism or any activities in that area. At the moment we are doing our best to keep the leadership engaged. We are doing our best to brief them and to keep them up to date with what is happening. There is nothing that is being hidden back there and we stand ready to explore with them all the questions that they may have and answer them as best we can."
While the company reportedly has the support of the Toledo Alcaldes Association, what about the NGO SATIIM? They were the co-managers of the SarstoonTemash National Park and the Temash #2 Drill Site occupies a small part of the park. That has been a particularly sore issue SATIIM. Greg Ch'oc told us yesterday that even though, their co-management contract with the government expired, and was not renewed, SATIIM still patrols the area:
Reporter "Do you still consider yourselff the co-manager?"
Greg Ch'oc - Executive Director, SATIIM "The community certainly considers themselves the owners of those lands which has been established by Justice Michelle Arana's ruling, so the community goes along with the help of SATIIM to continue presence and monitoring of the land inside the park, that has not stop."
Since Ch'oc, SATIIM, and the other claimants in the case before the Appeal Court believe that US Capital is defying the Supreme Court by continuing its oil exploration operations, the arrival and assembly of the drill parts will undoubtedly be closely monitored.
Yesterday we told you about a house fire on Plues and Berkely Streets which affected 4 families, leaving 3 structures destroyed. Well, today the Salvation Army made a donation to one of the fire victims, Jenisse Ramirez who is the mother of the unsupervised children who accidentally set their house ablaze. After the items were handed over, we asked Ramirez how she and her children are coping with the aftermath.
Joliker Leander-Major, Salvation Army "Well the donation is as a result of my wife watching the TV and she saw a news item someone has been affected by fire and so she ask if we could ask help and so we have decided to make a contribution through the help of our sponsors. We have a TV and alos we have purchase some food items and stove for the victim."
Robin Schaffer "Tell me how did you feel when you found out about these donations?"
Jenisse Ramirez- fire victim "I can't explain the feeling how I feel, but I feel grateful, I feel thanks for everybody and Salvation Army is helping me with these stuff for me and my children. It's a first start for us and we will be strong and continue move on to se of we can get more, some bedding, some clothing, and some more food stuff and get on our feet back. The good Lord is with us and o I'll stand strong to do it. We are still standing, so my kids with their mother still living and still strong - they are doing okay because I fight for them. I talk to them up to now and they say the house burnt down, we went there this morning, we cry, we talk, but we are still here. I thank God that we hold on or each other and I thank them for coming back home that I can talk to them and hold them and just learn from the mistakes as a young mother. We will get there around each other to know what is right from wrong and learn from other people how to do other stuff. Nobody is perfect, just a child do something wrong, we just need to be there and cloth them and talk to them. But more important, we need a house. We need to get back on our feet and be as afanily back again and some day somebody will help us with it."
Robin Schaffer "You guys have a place to stay right now?"
Jenisse Ramirez- fire victim "Right now we are not steady, but I am staying at my mom. Her house is small, she and her husband is there. We will just be there for the meantime until when I get a house for my children and I. We will see how that goes from there."
The family is still in need of donations, so if you would like to help, Jenisse Ramirez can be reached at her telephone number 6-0-1-9-3-3-9.
Councillor Phillip Willoughby - who recently helped out with the victims of the Prince Street fire - says CEMO is also making its assessment.
So with all the recent news about fires, fire hazards and fire safety, there's one more tip to make you safer. In case of fire, call 90, or 911. It may seem obvious, but it's not that simple because those numbers go through a police operator before they get to the Fire Department. Now you can call the Fire station directly at 207-2579, but that is not a hotline, it's a business phone so it might be busy.
And one more thing we've learned this week is that after the fiasco with the disastrous fatal fire on Newtown Barracks, the fire Department has apparently enhanced its deployment and rapid assessment of fire threats. On two recent fires we've seen the early and effective deployment of the water cannon - which was late to the scene in the Newtown Barracks fire.
Like many other low-lying coastal nations, Belize is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Today a group of organizations and stakeholders gathered at the Coastal Zone Management Authority Institute in Belize City for the Belize District regional consultation on a National Climate Change Policy, Strategy and Action Plan. Topic discussed at today's consultation included regional and national overview on climate change and how it has impacted Belize.
Ann Gordon - National Coordinator, National Climate Change Office Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development "Presently we are conducting a consultancy for developing for climate change policy strategy and action plan. This consultancy started Monday in the northern region where we consulted with various stakeholders in Orange Walk and Corozal Districts and continued down south on Wednesday with the Stann Creek and Toledo District. That consultation was in the Stann Creek District and now we are in the central region that covers the Belize District as well as Belmopan and Cayo District. The impacts of climate change are obvious, we see varying or shifting rainfall patters. We see the rise in sea surface temperature that is affecting our coral reef. We also see that the varying weather patterns are affecting our crop production, agriculture. It could affect our health, water sources and so one of the things that we are doing is conducting consultation with respect to a policy framework that will assist us in addressing the adverse effects of climate change, so that we could achieve our social and economic development in a sustainable manner."
"We have a wide stakeholder attendance here, we have the presentation from the tourism sector, we also have a presentation from health, education, agriculture. Planning, we have Coastal Zone Management Authority here, we have Protected Areas, so we have a broad stakeholders attendance at this moment. What we are doing is to gather their concerns, their inputs. Any comments that they would have to inform the policy, that is the reason why we are undertaking this consultation. We don't want to just produce a document, but we want to have their inputs into the formulation of this document."
These consultations have been held in all districts.
All this week we've been reporting on the crackdown on quality of life crimes. This has resulted in scores of arrests for minor offences such as bikes without bells or lights. The effect has been a rush on these items at the few stores which still sell bells and lights. To keep up with demand, bike storeowners have had to dig up old stock - since no one has been buying these items for decades - including our intern Robin Schaffer who went bell-hunting today.
Robin Schaffer Reporting
Since the quality of life crackdown bicycle riders in Belize City have been under pressure to bell their bikes. I've got none on this one, and I don't know the first thing about bells, so I'm going to find out.
Edmund Quan, Owner - Quan's Trading Company "In the past we practically weren't selling one bell per day, but all of a sudden about 100-200 a day."
I've come here to Quan's Store where they've mounted a special display and they are running out of bells!
Edmund Quan, Owner - Quan's Trading Company "We have couple designs that have already been sold out because we weren't prepared on the overnight crack down on bicycle lights and bell, so we are running low on stock."
Quan explained that there are all kinds of bells - for all prices:
Edmund Quan, Owner - Quan's Trading Company "We have the one that rings and the one that just ting, like one hit. The cheapest one we had was $2.95, but that's sold already. The one we have now is $3.50 and $4.50 - two kinds."
I picked the bell for $4.50 which they promptly installed. And so now, I've got mine which makes me lord of the ring.
Robin! You forgot the light! Don't worry, if she isn't arrested tonight, we'll get that light for Robin next week.
Quan says his stock of bells will finish soon, and there will probably be a bell shortage, since only a few stores sell bells.
On Sunday, grassroots philanthropist Dara Robinson will hold his third annual Ride for Hunger. This is Dara's 7th year of running a feeding program out of his own home, but he seemed just as dedicated to project today as he was when he first began. We asked him how the Ride for Hunger has evolved over the past three years.
The ride begins in front of the SMART building on the Northern Highway, then continues through Hattieville before running back down the Western Highway and ending at the SMART building. Registration starts at 6 am and there a $5 registration fee, but all donations, including food and care packages are welcome. Dara's next fundraiser, the Lucky Dube 7th annual tribute will be held at Bird's Isle on August 3rd.
Every year on the 23rd of July, Rastafarians celebrate the birthday of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I who is the Supreme Messianic Figure in the Rastafarian belief. So, the Belizean Rasta United will be hosting their 8th annual Selassie I Earth Strong Concert this weekend. Today we asked the organizers of the event the meaning behind the concert and who will be performing:
The concert will be held at the BTL Park on Sunday July 27th from 2 pm to 11 pm. It is a free event, and all are invited to attend.
The track and field segment of the 20th Commonwealth games will begin this Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. For Belize Kaina Martinez and Mark Anderson will compete in their 100 meter qualifying heats. Kenneth Medwood and Brandon Jones will also start their qualification processes next week as Medwood competes in the 400 meter Hurdles and Jones competes in the Triple Jump and Long Jump. Finally, on Wednesday, Katy Sealey will begin her events in the Heptathlon Competition which will end the following day.
Earlier this week, we told you about the labour conflicts at the Caribbean Court of Justice Headquarters in Port Of Spain Trinidad. Well, now, the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission has retained a Public Relations and Crisis Communications Agency which sent a lengthy release to all regional media today.
It refers most pointedly to Dr. Leighton Jackson's attack on the court. He is the Jamaican acting registrar of the court who was reportedly fired and has been bad mouthing management practices at the court. The release says the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission is "responding to set the record straight and to protect the Court, which is much larger and more important than the personalities involved."
They say that Dr. Jackson was not Dismissed but that the Dean of the Law Faculty at UWI wrote the President of the CCJ
Wrote the court a letter saying that it is "necessary for him to return to his full duties." As for the restructuring which Jackson criticized as being secretive, the release says that he was invited to a review of the structure and manpower requirements of the court - but went to Jamaica instead.
It adds that some managers have greeted these efforts of reform directed at financial accountability with hostility but stresses that there is no industrial relations dispute at the Court or with the Commission other than the challenge by some managers to the authority of the Regional Judicial Legal Services Council in respect of human resources management and the restructuring decisions.
The release closes by saying that no credence should therefore be attached to the warnings by Dr. Jackson of problems relating to the financial or other sustainability of the Court.