Canadian killed in Honduras; daughter rescued
Published Saturday, December 4, 2010 10:29PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:22AM EDT
A Canadian tourist was murdered after a gang of men swarmed his small yacht in Honduras, but relatives said his daughter managed to escape the assailants unharmed.
Milan Egrmajer, 58, was shot and killed in front of his daughter Myda, 24, on Thursday night aboard his sailing yacht Adena as it lay anchored in a small cove on the Caribbean coast of northern Honduras.
Myda called Honduran authorities soon after her father was killed, but police lost contact with her and feared for her safety.
The ship had taken shelter from a storm in a spot more than two hours by boat from the nearest town and police were unable to reach the scene because of the bad weather.
But Kelly Wilson, Myda's uncle, told CTV.ca that she was rescued by a passing ship not long after the attack.
"She was picked up by an Australian pleasure craft and they're taking her to Belize," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Nova Scotia. "Physically, she's fine -- she's unharmed."
Cousin Eric van Riesen told CTV.ca Saturday afternoon that Myda had arrived in Belize and was safely with consular officials.
He noted that Myda had flown south to spend time with her father about a month ago, and that the pair was sailing and scuba diving before the incident this week.
"We don't really know how my cousin managed to get away," van Riesen added, noting that Egrmajer was his uncle.
"He was just a really nice person, and my kids adored him," he said. "I always loved hanging out with him as a kid. So this really hurts."
On Nov. 26, Egrmajer, who had a naval background, departed from Guatemala with his daughter and the pair intended to visit a small island known for diving, van Riesen said.
However, bad weather forced them to seek refuge in a lagoon near the mouth of the Rio Tinto.
Family members could track their progress because Egrmajer had a small satellite unit on the boat, which is what alerted authorities that something had gone wrong.
"He sent about half a dozen 911 distress calls in those last hours," said van Riesen, noting that "everything was kosher and then a half an hour later, all these distress signals came in."
The Spanish-language daily La Prensa quoted police spokesperson Abelino Gomez as saying that an unknown number of men boarded the Canadians' boat, "probably with intent to rob," and shot the father when he tried to stop them.
The newspaper La Tribuna said an oil tanker tried to reach the scene of the attack, but was turned back by bad weather. An aircraft also flew over the area, but was unable to contact the missing woman.
Weather conditions improved late Friday, allowing a team of national police to set out for the area by boat, but by then Myda Egrmajer was already on her way to a port in neighbouring Belize, Wilson said.
Wilson sailed with Egrmajer, his brother in law, briefly last year and said he had been living on the 35-foot sailing ship and cruising the Caribbean for the past two years.
Foreign Affairs in Ottawa acknowledged Saturday that there was "an incident" involving two Canadians in Honduras, but spokesperson Laura Markle would not confirm the Spanish-language media reports.
Markle told CTV.ca that officials from the Canadian embassy in Tegucigalpa are following up with local authorities, but said due to the federal Privacy Act the department could not comment further on the case.
Egrmajer lived in Ottawa for more than 20 years, but moved to St. Catharines about a year before he set sail for the Atlantic in 2008, van Riesen said. He added that Egrmajer had last visited family in Ontario this summer.
On the website for the boat he was sailing, the Adena, Egrmajer writes that: "to me, water is a magnet. From the time I took my first steps, these steps were towards the nearest puddle. Springtime would find me with a long stick in my hand directing the run-off."
The website says that Milan joined the Canadian Navy and was assigned to HMCS Oriole, which is a training yacht.