Bottom line? Martin and Hughes killed my husband and 19 others...
Teresa Mars - Non-Diver/Pharmacist and wife of Wave Dancer victim Ray Mars
October 12, 2004 at 19:41:09
Travis, I agree with almost everything you said. There is most definitely a lot wrong with Hughes' boats. There was also obvious negligence involved, and ignorance of what to do in such a storm.
The only thing I disagree with is that most tourists or divers do not just go with no care on such boats. They have no idea that they are unsafe, indeed dangerous. Nor did they have any idea that the captain, Phillip Martin, was inexperienced, and unqualified to pilot a boat of that size. There is just no way they would have known that. It would be like going on a jet, and asking to see the pilot's credentials, and if he knew what he was doing. It's just not done, vacation, business trip, or whatever.
Peter Hughes Diving is advertized as a Miami-based world-wide liveaboard operation, and no one is aware of the "flags of convenience". If a person plans a dive vacation with what is supposedly an American corporation, that person does not expect that no regulations are followed or upheld. It is just not something you would even think to expect. You should be able to trust that corporation and your captain, that they have your safety in mind, etc.
That was NOT the case with the Wave Dancer. None of the innocent victims expected to just go have fun, on an unsafe vessel. They were completely at the mercy of Hughes and Martin, and never even informed of the severity of the storm, not to mention the complete stupidity of Phillip Martin. The head of emergency operations in Placentia approached him more than once, but he refused to let the passengers off the boat. Belizean law does not allow for mandatory evacuations, and the captain cannot be forced to do anything. He has the final say. It appears that that is one, if not the only, law that Belize actually enforces. They certainly do not have any inspections of the ships under their flag, as they are supposed to.
I have investigated this tragedy as much as I possibly could, and each fact that I found just upset me more. I am now alone, because of negligence, and it was totally preventable. Ray was the perfect husband, and such a wonderful, serious, mature man.
As for the Richmond Dive Club, don't even bother expecting anything from them. I had begged them (at least the survivors from the Wave Dancer) for information, and all I received in return was nasty, threatening letters from their lawyer. That pretty much explains what kind of people they are. The ones who were killed were very good people, but once Dave DeBarger took over, it was a completely different deal. I happened to have met him a year before the Wave Dancer tragedy, as did Ray, and we both came to the same conclusion very quickly. He is a complete idiot, and that is the nicest thing I can say about him.
I have a lot more on my mind, but it would be unprintable. The bottom line is that Martin and Hughes killed my husband, and 19 others, for absolutely no reason, other than greed on the part of Hughes. Now, I cannot even get a report on what happened. That only makes the horrific loss worse.