Youth drowns after falling off jet ski
A youth from Betim was feared drowned when he fell off a jet ski at Calangute beach on Tuesday evening.
According to reports, the incident took place at about 4.30 pm when Kalpesh Dattatray Arekar (20) along with a co-worker was riding a jet ski to bring a boat, owned by a private operator, which was lying in deep waters.
Kalpesh, who was pillion rider, did not wear a lifejacket when he fell off the jet ski.
Reports are unclear over the sequence of events after Kalpesh fell off the jet ski. Some have stated that the co-worker tried to search for Kalpesh, before reaching the shore and raising an alarm.
The search to locate Kalpesh went on till late evening .
PANJIM REPORTER ADDS: The incident has once again brought water sports activities along Calangute beach to the fore.
It may be recalled that after a boat tragedy some years ago which was followed by a court matter, the government had issued guidelines for water sports activities. These included wearing safety vests and compulsory registration of boats, jet skis, water scooters, etc.
More recently on December 9, a couple had a lucky escape when the jet ski they were riding toppled at Utorda beach, about 130 metres from the shore. The Indian tourists wore lifejackets and were promptly rescued by Dristi Special Response Service (DSRS) lifeguards.
It was later learnt that a water sports operator had allowed the couple to ride the jet ski without the presence of a qualified driver, thereby endangering their lives.
Registration is done by the Tourism Department based on a certificate issued by Captain of Ports Department.
Sources said it was not confirmed whether the fateful jet ski was registered with the Tourism Department.
Regarding today’s incident, sources told Herald that the lifeguards posted on the Calangute beach have told the tourism
department officials that they would have attempted to save the boy had they been informed that the youth fell off the je tski.
According to one version, the rescue operation didn’t take off because of delay caused in raising the alarm..
Incidentally, just yesterday, Director of Tourism Elvis Gomes had said that the stretch from Candolim to Baga was the worst to manage shacks and other tourism –related activities on the beach.
Sources said the incident also brought to light the carelessness seen in such activities though in the present case, the “victim” is not a tourist. While water sports operators say they make every customer use the safety vest, in this particular case, the local youth didn’t use the vest risking his life.
“If a foreigner was involved, things would have been flashed in the national and international media totally out of proportion - just as it happened in the Scarlet case – further damaging the badly battered tourism industry”, said a stakeholder.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Department shut down, though temporarily, four shacks after they were found with irregularities of using two to three times more beach-beds than the permitted number.