A youth convention in Cayo over the weekend ended in tragedy when one of the youths who attended the three day event drowned in the Belize River near Banana Bank in the village of Camalote on Easter Sunday. Several youths attended the Church retreat organized by the Gracias Christiano Mission; One of them was 24 year old Ronaldo Gongora also known as “Ronny of Yo Creek Village, Orange Walk District, who we understand was not an avid swimmer. The retreat started on Friday and the youths were to have gone back home on Sunday night after the evening’s service; however the event ended earlier than expected as a result of the incident. Rodolfo Hernandez was a part of the convention. He told us that the missionary took the youths to a place in Banana Bank to see the animals at around 3 pm. The delegation went close to the river but the missionary told the youths they were not to swim. Upon returning to the bus, 24 year old Ronaldo Gongora reportedly stayed behind with the intent of jumping in the river. Rodolfo Hernandez told Plus News that upon hearing the commotion, he ran back to the river but it was already too late; the current swept Ronaldo Gongora under water.
”When I was running down to the river, I heard them screaming “Ronny”. I ran to where I saw that the current was taking my nephew with the intention of throwing myself in the river and rescue him. But fell and when I got back up i couldn’t see him again, he had already submerged under water and he didn’t come back up again. Our brothers starting crying and shouting ‘Ronny has drowned.’ The youths started crying. I didn’t know what to do because my brother in law was home and my sister was in San Pedro with her dad. I couldn’t bring myself to call them, I didn’t know what to do because my nephew went with me to the convention.”
With help from the Belize Coast guard and other search parties, the lifeless body of 24 year old Ronaldo Gongora was found several miles down the river near Rio Coco in the Village of Cotton Tree at about 11 am on Monday April 6th. The body was immediately transported to the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital morgue for a post mortem examination. Rodolfo Hernandez, who is also the uncle of “Ronny” Gongora, remembers his nephew as a loving, caring person, who lived an exemplary Christian life.
“It’s hard to remember that special person, Ronny was someone who grew up in the gospel. His parents thought him since he was child, from when he was born, he was thought in the ways of the gospel. My nephew, at a very young age, around 15 or 16 years, began to play the drums with the musical group of Yo Creek named “Grupo Nazereno.” He started to serve the God with a ministry that was God put in his hands, to be a drummer for a musical group. He was someone who was never proud. His father had a small backery and he used to go out and sell bread and was never ashamed. Anything that he was asked to do he would do it immediately. The village, in general, the entire village is suffering that Ronny has ceased to exist. “
The body remains at the morgue awaiting a post-mortem examination.