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No SMB so prop-death captain released

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A complaint of “reckless imprudence resulting in homicide”, filed against the captain of a passenger motorboat when a diver was killed by its propeller in the Philippines in mid-February, has been dismissed.

The move came after it was established that there had been no surface marker buoy to indicate the presence of divers at the moment of impact.

The news of Diver killed by boat-prop off Apo, had occurred off Apo island, Negros Oriental, on 17 February.

According to the Philippine News Agency, the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office issued a resolution dismissing the complaint for “lack of probable cause” and declaring that captain Juvy Baat, 28, had not been negligent as charged.

The complaint had been filed by Hong Kong resident Lee Fung Kiu, whose husband Tai Hang Young, 54, died after the propeller of the boat Myles II struck his head, causing severe injuries.

Dive-guide Ricky Tobias Garualdo from the Azure Dive Resort in Masaplod, Dauin, where the couple had been staying, said that they and two other divers were 20-25 minutes into a dive from the resort boat At A Whim when the incident occurred.

He had been attending to Young’s wife because she was nervous, but said that all four divers had enjoyed the dive.

Garualdo said that he had been about to deploy the SMB for a five-minute safety stop at 5m when he saw Young being hit by the propeller.

Baat said that his boat had been moving at slow speed, slipping into neutral at intervals to check for SMBs or divers ascending in what was a known diving area, but he had seen no SMB at the time of the incident.

Following the dismissal of the complaint and after nearly two weeks in police custody Baat was released, and a restriction on use of the boat was lifted.

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