Fisherman George Alexander said he is deeply troubled by the disappearance of his colleague Atiba Williams who accompanied him on a fishing trip last week. – David Reid
Missing Tobago fisherman Atiba Williams was last seen heading out to sea on Thursday with George Alexander, whom he asked to teach him all the tricks of fishing.
In an interview with Newsday on Tuesday, Alexander said his colleague’s disappearance has him uneasy and he hasn’t been able to sleep properly.
Williams’ family said they last saw him on Wednesday leaving his Goodwood home to go fishing in his pirogue.
He met up with Alexander, who had a full trip planned after Williams approached him a month ago asking to go with him on a fishing expedition.
Alexander said both men were fishing in their own boats near the western coast on Thursday when they got separated.
Williams’ pirogue was later found damaged on some rocks in Canoe Bay on Sunday – its Yamaha engine still intact. However, its owner was nowhere to be found.
Missing: Atiba Williams
Alexander said he is deeply troubled.
“I have not slept a complete night yet, God hear me,” he said.
“I have never suffered from high blood pressure. Usually when I go to the health centre to check my pressure it’s like a young boy. Monday night I had a severe headache and my neck was stiff.
“It’s painful for me knowing he accompanied me and I had to come back home by myself. It’s the hardest news I had to bring to anyone…I know I had to tell his mother and I didn’t know how. I did everything I could, despite rumours that I didn’t do enough.”
He is adamant that the fishing expedition did not involve anything “wrong and illegal.”
Alexander said he had been an ordained pastor for almost 30 years. During that time, he took up fishing as a hobby and turned it into a lifestyle for the last 20 years.
He said he saw Williams at an All Tobago Fisherfolk Association press conference last Tuesday in Scarborough, where they finalised their plans. They met on Wednesday to catch bait in Crown Point around 9am. They fished for the entire day and anchored their boats on Wednesday night.He said they later moved to another fishing area near a rig off the coast of Scarborough.
“We left that rig to move to another rig. On our way there, we met a boat with the name Lady Khadija.“I spoke to the captain and we told him where we were going, and we proceeded to that area. Less than a mile and a half to our destination. We stopped our boats and he cast his line from his boat and I did from mine, and we started the fishing mission.
“I saw him moving up and down fishing – he was just a quarter of a mile from me, but he was in sight. About an hour after I realised his boat wasn’t heading back to where I was. I grew concerned and went looking for him, but I didn’t find him.
“I found it strange that we were in one area and in the blink of an eye, he wasn’t there.”
Alexander said he immediately returned to shore and contacted the Coast Guard and with the help of a friend reached out to Williams’ mother. He is adamant that he did all in his power at the time.“I gave Coast Guard all the information, including the co-ordinates of where he went fishing. After this, I went to the Scarborough police station to make a report.”
Alexander said the incident has left him traumatised.
“Since the incident, I only looked at my boat once. It really affected me…It’s like I just can’t face the sea. I haven’t fished since, and I’m not too sure when I’ll go back out.”
Coast Guard PRO Keron Valere told Newsday, “The TTCG has no comment on the situation at this time.”