RBDF: Nightfall and bad weather have hampered search efforts
Dames on the defensive over criticism of law enforcement’s response
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) advised yesterday that the search effort continues for 28-year-old Drew Rigby, who remains missing after the jet ski he was on collided with a boat on Sunday near Rose Island.
In a statement released yesterday, the RBDF advised that those efforts resumed at about 7am, when assets from the Harbour Patrol Unit (HPU), RBDF divers, aerial and submersible drones, along with BASRA and civilian vessels provided by the family conducted a search of the area.
Rigby’s relatives said they will not stop until he is found.
In the aftermath of the incident, critics have slammed the response of the RBDF and its decision to end daily searches when the sun falls — which the force said was due to low visibility at night.
Police said a 26-foot vessel with six people on board collided with a jet ski being ridden by two men shortly after 7pm on Sunday near Rose Island, which has become a hot spot for parties and events in recent years.
The passenger on the jet ski, who has since been identified as Rigby, was ejected into the water and the driver sustained injuries to both of his legs.
The RBDF said on being alerted to the incident that day, units from the HPU were dispatched and conducted a search of the area until after 9pm, when “nightfall and the weather made it difficult to continue”.
The search was suspended until first light the following day, when the HPU resumed its search around 6.23 am, with RBDF divers being deployed.
The RBDF statement noted that the search continued throughout the day on Monday until about 5pm, when it was postponed due to “unfavorable weather”.
On Tuesday, the HPU reportedly reconvened the search of the area and deployed aerial and submersible drones to assist in the search effort, which continued until nightfall and once again paused until first light the following day.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames on Tuesday defended the search and rescue response of the law enforcement agency.
Dames was responding to critiques, insisting that while he did not know the specifics of the investigations, he was assured that the law enforcement agency is equipped to do their search.
“We are a nation of over 100,000 square miles of sea, with the assistance of the greatest power throughout this world,” he said.
“Sometimes you are searching for persons and vessels and you don’t find them and sometimes you are fortunate enough to locate them.
“I have every confidence in the men and women of RBDF. They have trained all over the world and are very capable. I will lean on their expertise.”