One month after an emotional appeal for justice by the widow of a Dallas Police Officer who met his untimely death during a freak and gory scuba diving incident in Panglao on August 2, 2016, charges for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide and serious physical injuries are set to be filed before the proper courts next week by the Provincial Prosecution Office of Bohol.
The Chronicle recalled the tearful appeal of Chriselyn Bedolido, now the widow of Hans Adrian Campbell, in an exclusive interview said “I hope that the death of my husband will not be meaningless but will serve as a call for all concerned to strengthen safeguards on the lives of divers”.
Marcelina Calamba-Limpot, Associate Provincial Prosecutor found probable cause against Richie Cagandahan, single, 22 years old for the death of Campbell, Â and serious physical injuries sustained by his best friend Norman Zheng, both US citizens.
The Campbell couple, together with their families, close friends and guests flew all the way from Dallas, USA to celebrate the 28th birthday of Hans Adrian on August 3, 2016 and the re-enactment of their first wedding anniversary two days later at the Bluewater Resort, Danao, Panglao.
Despite the gruesome incident the couple pushed through with their wedding plans when the wedding ceremony was performed by a Baptist minister at the hospital bed before the groom expired on August 4, 2016, the day of the scheduled wedding rites.
The Campbell couple who were married on August 4, 2015 in Texas, USA were billeted at Bluewater Resort from July 30, 2016 to August 9, 2016 but their stay was cut short by the death of Hans whose remains were transported to the US a few days later.
The incident made a blot in the scuba diving business in Panglao prompting DOT-7 Regional Director Rowena Montecillo to express her disappointment and disgust over the “horrible incident”
“A life has been taken because of irresponsible operators that has smeared the marketing and promotion efforts of tourism officials pushing for Bohol and Cebu as priority areas in Central Visayas for watersports and diving”.
The filing of the complaint followed close on the heels of separate probes conducted by the Sangguniang Panglalawigan (SP), Office of the Governor, Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Office, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Panglao, Panglao Association of Dive Operators (PADO), Philippine Coast Guard and the Panglao Police Station.
NO RED FLAGS
Cagandahan who was steering a speedboat in shallow waters apparently strayed into an allegedly unmarked diving area where the group of Campbell was in a confined water skills training session slamming into Campbell and Zheng in the head and body with the boat’s propellers.
Limpot also accused Cagandahan of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide and serious physical injuries for acting with negligence, careless and imprudent manner without due regard to the rules and system in navigating the speedboat.
Cagandahan who was navigating the speedboat used by Ocean Holic did not take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries Â to persons in violation of article 365 – Imprudence and Negligence of the Revised Penal Code, according to the results of the preliminary investigation conducted by Limpot.
According to an employment certification issued by Jovel Balicog, proprietor of Ocean Holic Dive Shop, Cagandahan who hails from Dapitan, Dipolog City is employed by the dive shop as a boatboy since last May, 2015.
Cagandahan did not submit an answer to the complaint filed against him, according to Limpot.
Chriselyn, in a four page affidavit-complaint, narrated that on August 2, 2016, Campbell together with his mother, her mother, sister, brother and Zheng enrolled in a confined water skills training course conducted by Piratas Alona Diver’s Dive Center in Doljo.
After a short lecture, their group which was divided into three and each accompanied by a scuba dive master moved into the water 15 to 20 meters from the shore with an estimated depth of four feet.
Aside from their group, Chriselyn recalled that there were about twenty people swimming and undergoing scuba dive lectures and training in the area.
According to Chriselyn’s affidavit, shouts of help from her brother suddenly came from the area where her husband was training and when she rushed to the shore she saw the grisly condition of her husband and his buddy Norman.
Both were rushed to the Ramiro Community Hospital in Tagbilaran City, 20 kilometers from Panglao where despite all medical procedures Hans Adrian expired at 12:52AM on August 4, 2016.
Zheng survived the incident after undergoing head surgery but was discharge from the hospital and left for the US.
Expenses for surgical operations and medical procedures performed by medical professionals of the Ramiro Hospital on Campbell and Zheng amounted to almost half a million pesos plus funeral and transport expenses, according to the complaint-affidavit of Chriselyn.
Campbell who met Chryselyn in a Vietnamese pho restaurant served in the Texas Army Reserve Corps before he entered the Dallas Police Force on September, 2012 and was assigned to the Northwest Patrol Division.
Chryselyn, a naturalized US citizen is a Boholano by consaguinity andÂ was born to Boholono parents in Cagayan de Oro City and works as a registered nurse in the US.
Diving instructors who were with Campbell’s group – Spaniards Juan Bonilla and Ivan Ferreras were also asked to explain during the SP hearing the absence of warning flags to warn sea vessels of the presence of divers in the area.
Edwin Barrientos, a freelance dive master from Danao, Panglao, in his sworn statement submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the narrations in the affidavits of Chriselyn, her mother, sister and brother.
Barrientos was the back-up of the two Spanish dive instructors as requested by Frelyn Paga Rada, owner of Piratas Alona Diver’s Dive Center.
The unfortunate accident was an upshot of the lackadaisical manner the diving business in particular and the tourism industry in general is being handled by the tourism stakeholders in the municipality.
Hans Holger, president of the Panglao Association of Dive Operators (PADO) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Philippine Fun Divers, Inc. located in Alona Beach, Panglao said “this was an accident waiting to happen”.
Horn appealed to the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Panglao to identify three diving confined areas in the seawaters of Alona Beach with permanent marker buoys to serve as navigational lanes to avoid sea vessels from straying into the designated diving areas.
Holger also pointed out the proliferation of “habal-habal seacrafts” or unregistered sea taxis ferrying tourists to destinations that are apparently tolerated by local authorities.Â (Chito M. Visarra)