Complaint vs boat captain over death of Chinese diver dismissed

DUMAGUETE CITY The Provincial Prosecutor's Office in Negros Oriental has issued a resolution dismissing the complaint filed against the skipper of a commercial motorboat that hit a Chinese national while diving in Apo Island in Dauin town that resulted in the latter's death.

Assistant Prosecutor Buenagracia D. Umali, inquest fiscal, issued the eight-page resolution, approved by Deputy Provincial Prosecutor Maritess F. Macarubo on Feb. 23, 2018, but this was received by the concerned parties on Friday.

Lawyer Cynthia Sulit Portugaleza, lawyer for the accused, Juvy C. Baat, on Friday said the resolution dismissed the complaint for lack of probable cause and that the boat skipper was found to be not negligent as charged.

Chinese national Lee Fung Kiu of Hong Kong, with temporary address at Azure Resort, Masaplod Norte in Dauin, Negros Oriental at the time of the incident, filed a complaint of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide against 28-year old Juvy C. Baat, of Liloan, Santander in nearby Cebu province.

The complaint stemmed from the death of the Lee Fung Kiu's husband, 54-year old Tai Hang Young, who died after he was hit in the head by the propeller of the MBCA Myles II, skippered by Baat, last Feb. 17 off the waters of Apo Island.

Baat's lawyer, Cynthia Portugaleza, said his client was found not negligent for driving the boat that hit the Hong Kong tourist because he did not see any surface marker buoy (SMB) that would have alerted them of divers underwater.

In the resolution, Ricky Tobias Garualdo, dive guide of the Chinese couple and two other divers, said it was around 20 to 25 minutes into the dive when the incident happened.

Garualdo added that he was holding the hand of Lee, noting that she was scared, but all four of his guests were enjoying the dive and taking photographs.

He said he was about to deploy the SMB for the mandated safety stop at least five meters below the surface when he saw Young being hit by the propeller of a boat.

For his part, Juvy Baat said he was steering the MBCA Myles 2 on slow speed and alternating on neutral and taking several stops to check if there were SMBs or divers that were ascending.

There was no visible SMB at the time of the incident that would have alerted Baat and his boat crew as they were maneuvering towards the dive areas in Apo Island.

Following the dismissal of the complaint, the Dauin police have released Baat from detention while the Coast Guard in Negros Oriental has allowed the MBCA Myles II to sail again.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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