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Teen drowns during joy ride

Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Vishnu Ramkhelawan at Gran Chemin beach yesterday.

Eager to test out the speed of his father’s two new boat engines, Stephano Ramkhelawan went on a joy ride off the Moruga fishing bay on Sunday, but never returned.

It is believed that Ramkhelawan, 18, of Bois Jean Jean Road, Moruga, drowned in the Columbus Channel after being pitched off a pirogue named Renaldo shortly after 4 pm on Sunday. Witnesses saw him floundering in the water while the run-away boat circled around him.

Up to late yesterday, Coast Guard divers, friends, relatives and fishermen were searching the southern seas and the coastline with the hope of finding his body.

In an interview at Gran Chemin beach yesterday, Ramkhelawan’s father, Vishnu, said he had no hope that his son was alive. “I am sure that he is dead because he could not swim and he was not wearing any life jackets,” Vishnu said as he gazed out at the horizon.

There were two life jackets on board the Renaldo and Vishnu said he was puzzled as to why Ramkhelawan chose not to wear any. The boat was docked near the port and Vishnu said he was also uncertain why Ramkhelawan chose to go out to sea alone.

Describing his son as “harden” and stubborn, Vishnu said on Sunday Ramkhelawan told him he was going down the road.

“I told him to stay home and help me to wash some clothes but as usual he did not listen,” Vishnu recalled. Whilst home, Vishnu got a call that Ramkhelawan went out to sea at La Retreat with the boat and had fallen into the sea.

“Stephano’s cousin Blimp (Sylvester Singh) said my son went to joy ride but he couldn’t handle the boat. It dived and he pitched off. He came up once and went back down. The boat was circling in the water with nobody on board. 

“Blimp managed to bring the boat under control but we never saw my son again,” Vishnu added. 

He said Ramkhelawan recently signed up to do a welding course at the Moruga Composite School. 

“My son nearly drowned twice in the past. This time, I am certain that he died,” Vishnu added. He explained that he tried to teach Ramkhelawan to swim on many occasions but he always panicked.

He said Ramkhelawan was very close to him having lived with him after his marriage broke up. He added that Ramkhelawan recently opened a joint bank account with him and was helping him to rebuild their home. 

Three weeks ago, Vishnu said, he purchased two new boat engines and was also planning to buy a van for his son in the distant future.

Meanwhile, grandmother Ivy Ramkhelawan broke down in tears when the search party returned. 

“I just lost my husband Etwaro, who died three months ago. I don’t know how I will deal with this,” Ivy said. 

She said Ramkhelawan recently had an appendix operation and was looking forward to starting his welding course. 

Moruga police are continuing investigations. (RSD) 


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