Missing cook’s relatives seek legal advice
Capsized Miss Elliz…
The relatives of 63-year-old Gerald Fraser, the cook presumed dead aboard the capsized Miss Elliza cargo vessel, are seeking the advice of a legal practitioner since the family is still to locate and bury the body of their loved one.
The family said they are also upset that none of the relevant parties have made contact with them to speak on the topic of recovering the man’s body, nor have they been contacted on the matter of compensation since Fraser was the breadwinner for his home.
Sharon Pickett, Fraser’s niece, said that the family has secured the services of Attorney-at-law Melvin Duke who was contacted by Fraser’s daughter who resides in the United States. Pickett said she has already arranged to meet with the attorney today.
Gerald Fraser has been working aboard sailing vessels from the age of 17 his family had previously stated. On June 8 last, the man was performing cooking duties aboard the shipping vessel Miss Elliza which was destined for Trinidad and Tobago. The boat had millions of dollars worth of goods onboard. A short period before nightfall, the boat had left the Muneshwar Wharf and was making its way to open waters when tragedy struck.
The Captain, St. Vincent national Justin Bino had told reporters that the boat was unbalanced and he had noticed this problem soon after leaving the wharf. The seaman said he tried taking the boat back to the wharf but it started to tilt on its starboard side before turning over.
Fraser was alleged to have run back inside the boat, for a haversack. Other reports are that Fraser was in the kitchen cooking and got trapped when the boat toppled.
The cook’s body is still believed to be aboard Miss Elliza. Despite several searches which Minister of Works Robeson Benn said were conducted, Fraser’s body has not been found.
Fraser’s family had told Kaieteur News that making contact with the boat owner Vijai Sankar was very difficult and they claimed that the man was avoiding contact with the family. From then to now the family said they are still awaiting word on recovering the man’s body from either the boat owner or Government officials.
Attorney-at-law Melvin Duke told Kaieteur News that he is tasked with finding out who exactly owns the capsized vessel. Duke said that the family sought his services since they were unsure what steps they should take, given that the cargo vessel has been abandoned by its original owner and is now the property of the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD).
The lawyer said about two weeks ago he wrote to Minister Benn on the boat issue but is awaiting a response. Duke said the family may be suing unless an agreeable settlement can be put forward by the relevant parties. Apart from that, Duke mentioned that he would be looking at issues of liability in relation to the cause of the mishap and the insurance responsibilities of the boat owner, whether previous or present. Duke further stated that today he is hoping to make contact with Minister Benn and Maritime officials to determine who is responsible for the boat and thus responsible for compensating Fraser’s family.
When Pickett was contacted yesterday, this publication was told that the family is still grieving the loss of their senior relative. She said the hardest hit is her mother, the missing cook’s sister. Pickett said the family is hoping to send the woman on a vacation.