New York – Off the coast of Barbados, beyond where the waves break, a mystery so deeply strange that people have trouble understanding it. Two American tourists from New Jersey went on a regular ride on rented jet skis and then disappeared.
Karim Smith, a journalist for local news outlet Barbados Today, covered the story closely, saying, “Something bad happened to him, but absolutely no one knows what this bad thing has happened.”
What happened to Oscar Suarez and Magdalena Deville?
Two years of questions with so many possibilities have received so few answers.
“What about piracy? You know, what about human trafficking? What about stuff like that?” Oscar’s older sister Susanna Cruz said. She said families are disappointed with how the investigation went with local authorities in Barbados.
“They were like, ‘No, this doesn’t happen here,'” Cruz said.
It all started in late June 2019 when Suarez, 32, from Montclair and his girlfriend Devil, 25, from Bloomfield, arrived in Barbados for a week’s vacation.
“They were celebrating his birthday, in fact, when he went on his trip,” Cruz said. She said that two days after the trip, on June 24, the young couple decided to rent a jet ski.
“They were hanging out on the beach right outside their hotel,” Cruz said. “There are so many different vendors out there.”
Granthshala 5 NY obtained surveillance video, never before seen in public, showing what happens next. Oscar and Magdalena are on Holetown Beach near their hotel on the west side of the island. A man walks up to them and supposedly tells them that he has a jet ski to rent. A few minutes later, the couple get up from their place on the beach and walk to the place where the jet skis are located.
More Stories from the Tape Room
Cruz said he left all his belongings on the shoreline as if he had every intention of coming back.
Then we see them meet up with the jet ski operator, whom the authorities have identified as Artneel Abbey. They push the pot into the water and pass out. Both were wearing life jackets.
The images that follow are hard to see. But eventually, they change direction and a blurry white streak on the video shows them as they keep on riding, until eventually, they fall out of frame.
It was supposed to be a short journey but after two years they are still missing.
“For me personally, it’s the only matter of that nature that I’m aware of,” Smith said. The journalist said the disappearance still haunts many people on the island. It doesn’t make any sense, he said.
“Jet skis, speed boats — all water sport activities happen pretty much parallel to the shoreline,” Smith said.
Receive breaking news alerts in Free Granthshala News App | | Get the Granthshala 5 Weather App
When the jet ski operator didn’t see them when the ride was about to end, they contacted other businesses trying to find them. Then he called the police.
“It was a huge deal,” Smith said. Especially on an island where tourism is the major economic engine.
A massive search ensued, eventually covering a distance of over 600 nautical miles, and involving the local Coast Guard, regional security forces, and the US Air Force. Both families went to the island.
“We walked along the beach and we were asking everyone,” Cruz said. “We also contacted the jet ski operator who hired them.”
But the hours turned into days and the officers began to lose hope. The search was called off. Families were crushed.
Then two weeks after his disappearance, the jet ski was located.
“In the middle of the water by a French naval ship,” Cruz said.
It was 210 miles from the coast in Barbados, near the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Although the ship was in good condition, there was no trace of Oscar or Magdalena or their life jackets.
“We weren’t satisfied,” Cruz said. “We won’t be satisfied until we at least know what happened, even if it was an accident.”
Records obtained by Granthshala 5 NY show that the jet ski had four gallons of gas left in the tank but the inspecting engineer found that the battery cable was not connected. That engineer also found that poor maintenance could lead to rust. A broken cable could have prevented the engine from restarting.
We tried calling the jet ski operator, Artneel Abbey but multiple messages were not returned. He was charged with not having proper insurance or proper license and fined $450.
Oscar’s family denies any conspiracy he was trying to perpetuate. They say that a single father of two children never leaves his children. Nor did Magdalena belong to a well-to-do family of her own.
“After the closure, something that parents, I think my parents deserved,” Cruz said. “I feel like my Magdalena’s parents deserve to know what happened to their child.”
The Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados declined our request for an interview. Instead, the office issued the following statement:
“With regard to your request for an interview, please note that the status of this case has not changed since the last time investigators from the Royal Barbados Police Force provided an update to the families of Oscar Suarez and Magdalena Deville.
“As a result, we see no point in repeating information in an interview at this time that is already in the public domain. If that situation changes, we will be more than willing to accommodate you.”
Families say they won’t stop looking for answers or that of their loved ones.