A woman whose son was killed following a New Year’s Day boating accident also lost her husband in an incident on the water in 2014.
Dale Ebanks, 49, of West Bay died from his injuries Jan. 2 at the Cayman Islands Hospital after he was thrown overboard and was then struck on the head by the boat the day before.
Dale Ebanks’s father, George Burnis Ebanks, 79, of Boatswains Bay, West Bay, died in September 2014 while on an early morning fishing trip. When that happened, Andy Ebanks, Dale’s mother, said Dale comforted her by saying, “Mama, daddy died doing the things he liked to do.”
“I can only think the same of my son,” she said on Tuesday.
Brothers were testing boat
Dale Ebanks was testing the boat with his brother Ian when the incident happened.
Dale’s wife Belkis heard the news about her husband of 10 years when her mother-in-law Andy Ebanks came knocking on her door to tell her Dale and Ian had been in a boating accident and they needed to get to the hospital immediately. She said she was too shaken up to speak about the ordeal.
When the family arrived at the hospital, they were told there were no changes in Dale’s condition. Around 1 a.m., Andy Ebanks said, the doctors told them Dale had succumbed to his injuries.
“His brother Ian is taking it very hard,” Ms. Ebanks said. “They grew up like twins. If he worked on the car, Dale was right there to help him.”
Speaking to the Cayman Compass about the day of the accident, Ian Ebanks said he and his brother had just planned to cruise around, checking the boat and maybe heading to Cayman Kai, but soon realized the boat did not have enough gas, so they turned around and headed back.*
“We weren’t going at any speed when the steering cable broke loose and the boat lost control,” he said. “Dale grabbed out to hold onto the boat, which spun and dragged him overboard and into the engine, which caught him on the side of his face. It happened so fast I had no time to react; all I could do was throw the anchor overboard and jump over to grab him.”
He said a nearby boat helped them to shore to meet the ambulance that responded to a 911 call made around 6:15 p.m.
Ian Ebanks said the boat was not new, but was one he had had for a while.
“I miss my bother dearly,” he said, “but what can we do when accidents happen?
“He helped me and I helped him; we never had no fuss or fight. I will always miss him.”
His sister Jennifer said Dale was a hardworking man and had gotten baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness a couple of years ago. He always helped out with community events, and while he did not have children of his own, he was a loving person with others.
“When there was a funeral in the family, he was the first to pull it together,” she said. “It’s hard now that we have to do it for him.”
Worked at PWD
Dale Ebanks started working at the Public Works Department in October 1997. He was a skilled painter and extremely dependable, said Max Jones, Public Works director.
“He was well respected at PWD and a good friend to a large number of PWD employees,” Mr. Jones said.
In recent years, he said, Dale was based at the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre and was always willing to take on whatever task needed to be done to support the school. He also said the staff and management at the center held Dale in high esteem and frequently praised his work. They had come to rely greatly on Dale for maintenance activities at the school.
“Dale will be hugely missed by all those who worked with him at PWD,” he said.
In addition to his wife and his mother, Mr. Ebanks is survived by his sisters, Jennifer and Melita, and his brothers Ian, Donny and Denny.
The date of the funeral service for Mr. Ebanks will be announced later, the family said.
Dale Ebanks’s death is the first water-related death of the year. Last year proved to be a particularly dangerous year on the water in Cayman, with 18 people losing their lives in water-related fatalities.
In a statement released on Monday, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said the Joint Marine Unit was investigating the New Year’s Day accident.
*This story has been updated from the original.