The murders of two super-yacht staff within a fortnight have shaken the luxury yacht industry and sparked calls for crews to exercise extreme caution.
Both murders occurred in popular yachting destinations in the Caribbean islands and involved violent attacks. Last week, U.S. luxury yacht chef Sara Kuszak, of Savannah, Georgia was murdered after being abducted during a morning run in the Puerto del Rey marina in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Kuszak’s five months pregnant body was found in a field with a slashed throat. A local man has been arrested by police in connection with the incident. On January 22, Australian man Drew Gollan, captain of Perini Navi yacht Perseus was shot dead in what was described as a “failed robbery” in English Harbor, Antigua. Gollan, 38, was described as a “widely respected member of the yachting community.” His murder came less than a year after the double murder of a British couple on the island. Suspects have been arrested and charged with murder in both cases. Antigua, in particular, is highly dependant on the industry to boost its local economy — and it appears news of the crimes is already having a negative impact. In a press release, the Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting acknowledged that “a number of boats have decided to leave Antigua in the wake of this incident.” Further reports from yachting magazine, SuperYachtWorld suggest several captains on the island have also decided to leave. Meanwhile, luxury yacht staff who are remaining in the Caribbean have been urged by industry web site yotcru.com, to “exercise vigilant personal safety at all times.” Find out more about luxury yachts at CNN’s MainSail. After the death of Gollan, local Antigua politicians and yacht industry representatives held an emergency meeting to discuss the problem. At the meeting, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, the Honorary Baldwin Spencer said: “Antigua is still a safe place to be. It’s an unfortunate situation, however, we are all hoping that justice will be done,” SuperYachtWorld reported. Spencer also pledged new security efforts to help prevent future crimes. International charter company manager and luxury yacht industry expert, Els Bucknell, said yacht crews and clients were “shocked and saddened” by the deaths, and there would likely be a short-term impact on the Caribbean region. “Most people assumed that this part of Antigua was safe and I think it has come as a shock. “Some boats have already left and I think you will see some of that.” However, Bucknell felt the incident would not affect region in the long-term. “People do forget about these things over time … and the local business people with police and other authorities have made a serious attempt to make it safer. “The economy being the way it is has more to do with how business operates than these kind of things,” she said.