Police: Marine unit didn’t see cardboard boat race collision

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service issued an update Friday on the incident that occurred during the Cardboard Boat Race on Saturday, Nov. 15, in George Town Harbour, saying that officers at the location on the Joint Marine Unit vessel didn’t see the near collision between the Jolly Roger ship and the small cardboard craft.  

One of the passengers on the cardboard craft, 15-year-old Brittney Bodden, suffered a mild concussion when she hit her head on the hull of the Jolly Roger after she and the other occupants of the small handmade craft jumped overboard when 47-ton vessel was bearing down on them.  

The police said the marine unit on the scene was rendering assistance to other participants of the race whose craft had sunk, and that contrary to what was being said, the officers did not ignore pleas for assistance from those on Ms. Bodden’s craft. 

“The marine vessel was to the rear and right of the Jolly Roger at the time of the incident and the officers did not did not see the collision,” the police said in the issued statement. 

The Cardboard Boat Race is an annual event that takes place on the last Saturday of Pirates Week, the Cayman Islands National Festival. Participants have to build their craft out of cardboard. Many of the boats sink during the race and an award is actually given for the “best sinking.” 

Although hundreds of people saw the near collision with Ms. Bodden’s craft, and a video of the incident was posted on Facebook, police said no calls were received by the emergency communication center (911) on the afternoon of the incident. 

“RCIPS was notified of the incident on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, by a concerned citizen who witnessed the events,” the statement said, adding that everyone they have spoken to during their investigation, including the victim’s parents, had indicated they did not alert authorities of the need for assistance.  

The police said that although the investigation of the incident was in the early stages and they were unable to go into specifics, “it is clear that there is a distinctive difference between what is fact, and what is speculation.” They went on to state that there was no indication that the injury victim had suffered a skull fracture as rumored. 

Anyone who witnessed the incident can contact Inspector Ian Yearwood or Constable Cyril Gordon to give a statement, the police said, adding that a file will be submitted to the Office Department of Public Prosecutions for a ruling. 


The Jolly Roger gets too close for comfort to the cardboard boat during the boat race on Nov. 15. – PHOTO: STEPHEN CLARKE

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  1. Not surprising, every one would try and blame the police. I truly believe that the pirates week committee should be responsible in not allowing small crafts as such to mingle with the larger vessels. It is very dangerous and it is good no one was seriously hurt.

  2. One don’t have to have a skull fracture to suffer life time consequences of a mild concussion.The incident must not be trivialized but thorough investigated. The organiser has wide range responsibilities that include safety, health and rights of participants,volunteers and the general public.