The police commissioner has asked Governor Helen Kilpatrick to set up an independent review of the police response to reports of the five boaters, including two children, who went missing at sea Sunday.

Police have come under fire from the family and others for what many say was a delayed response. The family reported the five missing around midnight Sunday night, but the police helicopter and the marine unit did not go out to search until 8:30 a.m. Monday.

In a press release, Police Commissioner David Baines said, “In order to be transparent about the RCIPS decisions and actions, there should be an independent and complete review of all the circumstances from the first report, to deployment and actions thereafter.”

The governor said she will establish an independent review. In the press statement she said, “I welcome the request from the Commissioner of the Police for an independent review of the RCIPS response to this tragic incident.  All our thoughts are with the families of those who are missing. A suitably qualified person will be appointed to lead this review and to report to me on its outcome.  I intend to make the report public in due course.”

As reported in Thursday’s Cayman Compass, Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis defended the response time. He said, “I understand the angst and that people are upset but from my vantage point as the strategic commander, we have done all we can, and continue to do all we can, to try to rescue these people.

“We mobilized as quickly as possible taking into account all the variables.”

For more on the police response, see Police defend missing boat response.

The search continues

The search operation for five missing boaters is now covering an area of 350 square miles of ocean around the Cayman Islands.

As the search entered its fourth day Thursday, the police helicopter and 65-foot marine vessel, the Guardian, were scouring an increasingly wide area for any sign of survivors.

Gary Mullings, his nephews Nicholas Watler, Kamron Brown, 11, and Kanyi Brown, 9, and his friend Edsell Haylock were reported missing late Sunday after they did not return from a fishing trip to 12 Mile Bank. Their upturned vessel was located 20 miles offshore Monday.

Police temporarily suspended the search for survivors Wednesday afternoon due to bad weather and rough seas but resumed Thursday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which sent two C-130 planes to aid the search, concluded its air assistance Wednesday, according to a statement from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

The Coast Guard, which dropped a tracking beacon at the site where the 28-foot Panga boat was found Monday, continues to provide technical data and software analysis of currents and drift patterns to help determine the best search area for possible survivors, police said.

A shoreline search from Barkers Beach in West Bay to East End also took place Wednesday and Thursday, involving police and volunteers aided by the police helicopter. There were no reports of any debris or signs of the boaters uncovered following the search.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now


  1. On the one hand it is obvious that in a case like this an immediate search is essential before the boaters drift too far away.

    On the other hand searching for people in the dark who are not wearing lifejackets or lighting of any sort is impossible.

    It seems the boaters phone packed up about 3pm. They should have been back by 4pm. Why then was the alarm not raised till so very late?

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

  2. To follow up my last comment.

    I try to learn lessons from tragedy.
    As a guy I well understand the boaters drsire to Man it Out and not worry anyone or make a fuss.

    But if only they had asked for help when they were struggling with heavy seas and only one engine.

  3. So if we expect the RCIPS to go out in bad weather, we need to give them the equipment to do that. The boats we have are for catching criminals, not rescuing people. We should seeks help for either the US or UK on motorized life boats that can go out in ANY weather. The USCG uses a 47ft life boat that can roll completely upside down and then it rights its self up and keeps on going. Why don’t we have one of those?

  4. how many times do people have to be lost at sea before the gov has the appropriate vehicles for rough weather rescues?

    yes they have some boats and helos but it’s not enough for situations like these.

    regardless of who’s ‘fault’ it was – the adults for going out in rough weather, the RCIPS for seemingly not responding fast enough – it still happened, and it could have been avoided if the proper equipment was used. playing the blame game is not right. at all. I have seen far too many comments on media throwing the blame this way and that.

    I know how it feels to lose someone like this. my father disappeared in 2000 under similar circumstances. I would have hoped that by now the gov would have upped their search & rescue game. how many people have to disappear before they realize they need the proper methods to bring people back to us.

  5. This tragic story of the lost of our kids , and men , should teach us all, I keep the parents and the victims in my prayers.

    We all know that boating / fishing is fun , but going out in the ocean is a other thing, we must know that we have all the necessary safety equipment on board / food / water / fire extinguisher everything planed for survival , and leave a float plan with someone at home any most of all plan and try to stay with the boat in most situations , because the boat is a larger object to find in the big ocean than a body .