Man still missing three days after Thames boat tragedy
PUBLISHED: 11:50 20 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:33 05 October 2010
THE tight-knit Latino community of London's East End is in shock after one of its popular members vanished in a tragedy on the Thames. His body has still not been recovered as police divers and the Tower lifeboat crew are still searching today (Wednesday), three days after Sunday night's accident. The 35-year-old Mexican slipped and fell from a pleasure cruiser while disembarking after enjoying himself moments before during an evening with work colleagues on a riverboat outing
THE tight-knit Latino community of London’s East End is in shock this week after one of its popular members vanished in a tragedy on the Thames.
His body has still not been recovered after three days.
Police divers and the Tower lifeboat crew were still searching today (Wednesday), three days after Sunday night’s accident when the 35-year-old Mexican slipped and fell from a pleasure cruiser while disembarking.
The man had been enjoying himself moments before during an evening with work colleagues on a firm’s riverboat outing.
He worked for Leon’s fast food health restaurant chain which has eight branches in Central London including an outlet in East London at Spitalfields, off Brick Lane.
Scotland Yard said on Tuesday there was “nothing to indicate this is a suspicious incident at this stage.”
They were unable to name him as next-of-kin were abroad.
But he was known as Jay to his friends in the Latin American community who meet regularly at a pub in Bethnal Green. He lived near Tower Bridge.
One man who was with Jay on Sunday night’s boat trip on the Hurlingham pleasure boat (pictured yards from the accident spot) said he slipped getting off and struck his head as he fell into the water.
He described Jay as “the life and soul of the party” who made sure everyone was enjoying the evening.
“We are all in shock at what happened,” he said. “Jay was a lovely man, lovely personality, beautiful human being.”
Restaurant chain co-founder Henry Dimbleby also paid his tribute to Jay.
“He really was a tremendous guy,” he told the East London Advertiser.
“We are spending a lot of time talking to his family. This is tragic.”
The Coastguard Agency’s Marine Accident unit began an investigation with the Health and Safety Executive into how the incident happened at Westminster Pier.
“We will be giving the police all the help they need in their investigation,” Mr Dimbleby added in a statement today.
“This was a horrible accident and everyone at Leon is deeply upset.
“We are a close-knit team and this week our thoughts are with the family.”
Eye-witnesses said passengers were being disembarked when Jay was seen squeezing through a gap and loosing his footing.
Police launches from the Met’s marine base at Wapping and the Thames Coastguard were still searching the Thames three days after Jay fell from the pier. But his body had still not been recovered.
Investigators have been examining the Hurlingham, built in 1915 and owned by Thames Cruisers as part of a fleet of pleasure boats on the river.