Brit Found Dead Near Burning Boat In Caribbean

Richard Williams, Sky News Online
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Brit Found Dead Near Burning Boat In Caribbean

A British man has been found dead near a burning boat in the Caribbean, prompting a police hunt for his Norwegian partner.

Police in St Vincent told Sky News that 53-year-old John Edward Garner was discovered with head injuries and leg injuries just off the coast of the island after reports a yacht was on fire.

He was travelling with a Norwegian woman, Heidi Hukkelaas, who is believed to have been his partner.

St Vincent police commissioner Michael Charles told Sky News "foul play" was a possibility but added: "At this stage we are certainly looking at all lines of inquiry."

Winston Simmons, who knew Mr Garner and his family, said he believed there had been an accidental explosion on the yacht caused by a gas bottle.

He said Ms Hukkelaas left the island on Tuesday to return to Norway, where the couple lived.

Diver Kay Wilson was one of the first to arrive at the burning yacht.

She told Sky News the flames had "completely engulfed the vessel" by the time she arrived.

"I was out with a group of divers," she said. "We'd gone out to do a dive trip and one of my crew members saw the smoke on the horizon.

"We made our way over there ... When we reached about a quarter of a mile off we saw a flashing light, which we would normally associate with a life jacket.

"We approached cautiously and we found somebody in the water, with the life jacket around their neck, approximately 150 to 200 feet away from the yacht at the time."

Ms Wilson added Mr Garner had also been spending time on the Grenadines island of Bequia with a family member, dropping them home before planning to travel to Antigua.

Mr Garner's body was found around 15 nautical miles west of Buccament, in the southwest of the island, on Wednesday afternoon.

He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, in Kingstown.

Initial reports suggested Mr Garner had been found on the vessel itself, reportedly named Asante and registered in Gibraltar.

Mr Charles said Mr Garner and Ms Hukkelaas arrived on the island on January 19 and had secured permission to remain there until April 19.

The Foreign Office told Sky News they were aware of the death of a British national in St Vincent and were providing consular assistance to the family.