Helicopter crash victims’ families still not compensated

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Amandala Newspaper

Photo: Attorney Audrey Matura

by Kristen Ku

GALES POINT, Belize District, Mon. Feb. 2023

Monday of this week marked three years since the fatal BDF helicopter crash near Gales Point that claimed the lives of four BDF soldiers – Major Adrian Ramirez, Major Radford Baizar, Corporal Yassir Mendez, and Corporal Reynaldo Choco.

Amongst the four, two families were each compensated with the amount of $100,000, while the other two families have yet to collect their full compensation for the loss of their husband, father, son, and breadwinner.

The families of soldiers Mendez and Choco, who were the mechanics/engineers aboard the flight, are being represented by Attorney Audrey Matura. They are suing the government of Belize for negligence in sending out soldiers knowing they were not sufficiently equipped, in addition to not responding immediately as they should have after the incident.

Initially, the government wouldn’t accept the blame, but eventually agreed to compensate the families for what they deserved. Attorney Matura explained to reporters how tricky it can be to receive fair compensation

“Going legally, by our laws, these families can only sue the government for compensation under the Tort Act. And the Tort Act is very limited; it’s only people who can prove they’re dependents,” Matura said.

She explained that now the issue for the families is to wait to receive their compensation upfront.

“The government will say, hey, I’ll compensate you; but the government has this tendency to want to compensate you in installments, so it’s like, it drags off. Sometimes it’s best you get your money upfront and you decide what you’ll do and, like I’ve always said, these guys didn’t die in installments, they died on the spot,” said Matura.

Ultimately, no calculation could be made for the emotional compensation that these families need after their loss, Matura said. Mendez left behind a wife and two kids, ages 5 and 9, while Choco left behind a wife and parents who were partly dependent on him.