Advertisement 328
Advertisement 211
Richard Joachim 2
Advertisement 219

A woman says she has not given up hope that her brother is alive four days after he failed to resurface while spearfishing in West Cay, Bequia 

“I want to believe that he probably got on a rock or something and just waiting for us to find him,” Sharifa Williams told iWitness News on Monday. 

“I just feel that way. Because I know my brother is not a person to give up and I know he’s an excellent swimmer. He’d been doing this since he born,” she said.

Williams’ younger brother, Richard “Richie” Joachim, 34, is missing at sea one day after Hurricane Beryl, a dangerous category 4 cyclone, impacted St. Vincent and the Grenadines leaving at least one person dead and widespread damage in the Southern Grenadines.

Joachim, a diver and spear fisherman who lives in Queen’s Drive and operates from Calliaqua, went fishing with two other men on Friday, Williams told iWitness News.  

Advertisement 271

“There’s not much that I know because I got a call on Friday that my brother went diving by himself. And it was two men on the boat, the captain of the boat and a policeman …” she said, adding that the officer is like a relative.

“The policeman is the one that called … and he said, ‘I have some news about your brother.’

“I said, ‘Just tell me.’ So he told me that ‘Your brother went on to shoot a fish; we ain’t see him come back up,” Williams told iWitness News.

She said the officer told her that they were looking for Joachim but were yet to locate him.

On Sunday, fishermen at Calliaqua told iWitness News that Joachim had been using only snorkelling gear. They said his spear gun and buoy were found floating in the water where he was diving, with a 26lb barracuda attached to the tow line.

However, Williams said that her information is that the fishing implements were not found floating on the water. 

“What happened, the guys who were on the boat, apparently they saw the buoy not moving. So, they decided to tug it to see if he was okay and when they tugged, they didn’t get him to tug back the buoy. So, they started pulling the buoy and when they pulled, it was just the gun and the fish and the line.”

Williams said her brother was the only diver among the three people on the boat.

“So nobody could … go behind and see if they find him,” she said, adding that the two other people on the boat contacted the Coast Guard, which responded.

She said she was on the phone with the police officer when the Coast Guard arrived.

“Nobody wanted to get into the water. … in the background, I hear people, ‘What he doing here?’ ‘But he crazy?’ That’s the behaviour.”

She said that on hearing this, she told the police officer that she was getting off the phone. 

“And I cried it out and then I called back, I couldn’t get on to anybody.”

Williams said another boat arrived from Canouan and while the occupants knew Joachim, they did not know he was the missing person.

“Now, upon leaving, they met the boat that my brother was on and they told them that Richie went down and Richie never came up. And hearing that news, the men jumped off the boat and they started searching for my brother. When the men jumped off the boat, up to now, none the Coast Guards were still on the boat.”

Williams expressed frustration with the Coast Guard, saying that when she contacted the Coast Guard Base in Bequia on Friday, they told her that they were doing everything they could.

She said she used Facebook to try to reach out to divers in Bequia to assist.

“But I don’t really have anybody on my Facebook that could tell me; nobody was reaching out.”

Williams told iWitness News that she even called the Questelles Police Station to see in any officer there had “a link in the Coast Guard”.

She said the situation is difficult “because I can’t do anything from where I am. 

“I tried catching a boat. I can’t catch a boat because the fisherman already pulled up all the boats [because of the impending hurricane]. 

“Nobody is willing to take me. And then I was trying to see if I could get somebody to go who knows where he dived, who dived with him to help me search and nobody can go because of the weather,” Williams said.

“And I feel like a sitting duck because this is my brother and the Coast Guard’s not doing what it’s supposed to do. As far as I’m concerned if it’s not somebody for them not taking it seriously.”

She said she called the Coast Guard at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday to ask them if they already set out to sea to search for Joachim and they said that they had not. 

 “I called yesterday. They said, ‘Miss, we done pull up the boats. Nobody ain’t contacting me to tell me ‘Miss, the boats out of the water, we will carry on the search. Nobody telling me anything.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that the Coast Guard flagship vessel had been sent to Antigua for safe anchorage during the passage of the hurricane.

He said the smaller Coast Guard vessels were anchored at the Ottley Hall Marina. 

Start the Discussion

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.