Brothers Save American Snorkelers
Timely rescue training for the staff of a Sandy Bay fishing charterer proved to be a lifesaver, literally, for two American tourists in February.
Bill and Tricia Steckelmann, a middle-aged couple from Wisconsin vacationing on Roatan, were snorkeling near Spooky Channel around 2 p.m. February 25, just after a cold front had passed through the area, when a riptide carried them out to the reef and trapped them on top of it.
“The tide was falling, and the current was sucking them out the channel,” said Loren Monterroso, who operates the Early Bird Fishing Charter and Underwater Museum just up the beach. “They were exhausted.”
Kevin Peralta, who works at Sunnyside, saw the couple in distress and phoned his brother, Elvis, who works at Early Bird. Within five minutes, Monterroso said, employees Isaiah and Dagoberto Ramirez, who are brothers, embarked in a small fishing boat to assist. The Ramirez brothers, together with the rest of Monterroso’s staff, had just received rescue training from the Honduran civil defense agency two weeks earlier.
“We saw them out there having trouble on the reef,” said Isaiah, 21. “The lady was crying a lot, and she told me, ‘Help me, please.’”
Isaiah jumped in the water and pulled Tricia Steckelmann to the boat, then went back to throw her husband a rope to tow him to safety. However, he said, Tricia fainted and let go of the boat.
“I grabbed her again and I told her, ‘Hang on.’ And I jumped in the boat, and me and my brother pulled her in.”
Monterroso said the couple were scratched up a bit and panicked but otherwise fine.
The following day, before returning to the US, the Steckelmanns visited Early Bird to thank the two brothers and gave them each $100.
“A big tip,” said Isaiah. “That’s pretty cheap for a life, though,” said Monterroso.
When we spoke to Isaiah March 16, he said he had already spent the reward. “I had stuff to buy,” he said. Dagoberto, 23, said he used his reward to get a tooth fixed.