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Dive instructor shot by roatan resort owner

Discussion in 'Bay Islands' started by Cudabait, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. Cudabait

    Cudabait IDC Staff Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Houston, Texas, Bay Islands, Honduras
  2. ZenDiver.3D

    ZenDiver.3D Rejecting Reality ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kuwait, but home is Savannah, Georgia
  3. Blue Sparkle

    Blue Sparkle Captain

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Chesapeake Bay
    Please note: The linked article contains some graphic descriptions and images (blood/pain).

    Here is the text:

    Dive instructor O’Donnell foretold his own attempted murder a month ago


    No one disputes these initial facts: On Friday, August 19, just past noon in front of no fewer than five witnesses, West End businessman Sam Wesley stormed out of his house, pressed a silver revolver against Joe O’Donnell’s bare back and pulled the trigger. Then he calmly walked back home without saying a word.

    O’Donnell, 41, a well-known dive instructor from Australia, was simply trying to buy some lunch.

    As O’Donnell collapsed in the street, blood spurting from a hole in his back, concerned shop owners ran to his aid. Wesley’s wife, Rosita, wagged a finger at them — indicating her desire for them to leave the shirtless, fedora-wearing man to bleed to death in the street. As a crowd of close to 20 gathered, it momentarily seemed as if Rosita Wesley would get her wish. People screamed, gawked, and took photos — but no one took action.

    Luckily, Paul Cleveland, an 18-year Roatan resident, was on the scene and his military training kicked in. He stuffed his finger in the bullet hole, sent someone to get a bag of ice and secured a truck to get O’Donnell to the hospital.

    Cleveland, who describes himself as a good friend of Sam Wesley for years and years, was also the first to make a statement against him. He said the crime had “no motive” other than Sam was acting “completely on his wife’s inclinations” and that Rosita has “serious, serious mental issues.” Cleveland also expressed amazement that Wesley could be out of jail in 24 hours, stating, “the law seems to be more concerned with cocaine possession. If Sam had been caught with a kilo, they would not need anyone to make an accusation and he would still be in jail.”

    Standing next to Cleveland when the shooting took place was 23-year-old Frank Ebanks. His story lines up with Cleveland’s, and he even pointed the exact spot in the street (about 50 feet past the Wesley’s property) where O’Donnell dropped to the ground.
    Cleveland and Eric Kellegrew, who’d just finished his Dive Master training, accompanied O’Donnell to Roatan’s public hospital where X-rays clearly showed a hollow-point slug lodged in his spine. Municipal police Chief Joe Solomon translated for the DGIC investigator who took O’Donnell’s statement from his hospital bed.

    There, O’Donnell’s shocked friends tried to remain calm. The hospital declared it had done all it could, but as tropical storm Harvey closed in, the airport was officially closed. Off-duty pilots were located, a plane was chartered on a credit card — and then, absurdly, things that could only happen in Honduras held things up for close to an hour. First, it was decided since the injury was so severe O’Donnell might be required to fly to Mexico — so it was demanded that someone go fetch his passport before the plane would be allowed to leave for to San Pedro.

    Next, the clerk at the Banco Lafise, where departure taxes are handled, refused to accept the payment. There was no ticket to stamp, since it was a chartered flight. Even the stretcher used to transport O’Donnell reportedly became a bone of contention. Finally, the plane was allowed to leave.

    At CEMESA hospital in San Pedro that evening, exploratory surgery was performed to remove the largest part of the exploded bullet, look for organ damage (there was none) and stabilize O’Donnell. That evening, he lost a large amount of blood. After more cash became available, a second, 10-hour surgery took place the afternoon of Monday, August 22, pushing the hospital tab as high as $30,000.

    Meanwhile, back on Roatan, Sam Wesley’s son Quincy drove his father to the police station where he turned himself in, gave a statement and was jailed — but was allowed to leave the next morning on “house arrest” since he’s over 60 years old.

    Cleveland, 59, believes Sam is actually four or five years younger than him and therefore not eligible for release. Bail is not believed to have been required, Sam’s passport was not taken and he still is thought to have weapons in his house.

    Wesley is reportedly being represented by local attorney Alfred Hockersmith, a former judge on the island. Hockersmith and Jimmy Chirrinos (the judge presiding over the case) are apparently good friends — so much so that Hockersmith reportedly advises Mr. Chirrinos regarding cases and sentencings. It’s also been speculated that Chirrinos uses Hockersmith (or vice-versa) to make critical decisions regarding on-going investigations.

    The O’Donnell/Wesley dispute began Monday, June 28 when O’Donnell stepped onto the Wesley’s property for the first time to visit his friend, Jason Brown, at the dive shop Brown rented from the Wesleys. Rosita approached O’Donnell, hysterical, because he’d placed his bike against bushes on the other side of the street. She became even more enraged when he ignored her requests to move the bike due to being on the phone.

    Rosita then took the bike to put behind her house, while O’Donnell, a former cop back in Australia, fought back — only to have Sam Wesley come out of the house and smack his leg with a 2×4. O’Donnell, covered in bloody scratches from Rosita’s fingernails, managed to get the bike away and left the premises, all the while chased down the street by the Wesley’s swinging machetes.

    In an eerily prescient blog post from O’Donnell on July 24, he wrote about being scared to walk past the Wesley compound on his way to a volleyball game. As Quincy Wesley approached him carrying a machete, O’Donnell turned to leave.

    “I would prefer not to get chopped up than to play volleyball,” he wrote. “But soon after I turned around I ran into a mate with a car, and he gave me a lift to volleyball. The locals are giving me all different types of advice … but no advice seems reduce the risk of me getting chopped up or shot. I don´t know what to do.”

    Tracing the history of the Wesley’s violence and threats of violence against innocents is as easy as searching Trip Advisor. An entry dated September 22 , 2010, tells of Rosita Wesley barging into a guest’s cabin, cursing and threatening to hit them if they didn’t pay for a “fourth guest” – who’d sat on the front porch for an hour or two. The review goes on to detail filing a police report against the hotel owners — only to learn the translator had once had their life threatened by the Wesleys as well.

    Outside of cyberspace, it’s easy to find evidence of the Wesley’s criminal behavior by chatting up their neighbors. Rosalie Crimmin, owner of nearby Georphie’s Tropical Hideaway, tells of an incident about two years ago when, while walking her dog down the street, she suddenly found herself dodging a rock the size of a coconut. She saw that Rosita had thrown it and asked why. From an upstairs window, Sam Wesley yelled, “never mind about her, worry about me!”

    Crimmin took her compliant to the law and won her case, but the situation was muddied when Sam filed counter-charged, claiming his neighbor’s dog had caused 60,000 lempira of damage to his property. When the judge arrived to do an inspection, Wesley tried to keep Crimmin from coming on the property during the inspection, and even threatened the life of the dog in the judge’s presence. Still, nothing was done.

    Crimmin’s daughter learned the hard way when she was scared away from the Noodle Shack, simply because she’s related to her mother. She was attempting to buy dinner when Rosita chased her back across the street — with the added nicety of telling her if she ever returned she would be a “dead bitch.”

    The Crimminses point out that it’s not uncommon to see police and members of the Fiscalia come and go from the Wesley’s hotel at odd hours, with whom they presume to be mistresses and prostitutes. This claim is backed up by prominent local attorney Melvin Rosales, who said it is well-known members of these groups get “special rates.”

    Then there are the cases involving guns. Over Easter weekend, shots were reportedly fired next door at Slippery Sue’s bar, due to the music being too loud for the Wesley’s liking. Former neighbor Noelle Gatti tells of being “threatened with a shotgun many times.” Another well-known incident going back years involves shots fired at Foster’s bar over a noise complaint.

    Eight years ago, then-new Sandy Bay resident Kent Burnes felt the Wesley’s wrath. “I was leaning on the fence and she told her husband to kill me,” he relates. Burnes just laughed but a friend advised him to leave. “He will come back and shoot you. This man is crazy,” his buddy told him. “I got in my truck and left.”

    Now Burnes cautions about further retaliation. “If Sam goes to jail,” says Burnes, “the problem they would have be Rosita. She will kill somebody if Sam goes to jail. She is certifiably nuts. If she was in any other country she’sd be incarcerated. She is mentally ill. They could probably get her medicated. She probably has a diagnosable mental illness that a pill probably fixes.”

    The Wesley family was contacted several times by phone and e-mail to give their side of the O’Donnell shooting. At 9:16 pm on Monday, August 22 the following e-mail was sent via Sam Wesley’s Blackberry (verbatim/unedited):

    “So you what to get involved is that is go ahead and print you story we are looking forward to it. But let me tell you Boy, your friend was a troublemaker and let me tell you something looking forward to your story will read every inch of it. But my family has bind on this island since 1843 and has no plans of leaving be my guests. I heard about you and if you think I told the police some BS that is find feel that way.”

    A copy of this article was sent to Sam Wesley for fact-checking purposes, but no reply was received. O’Donnell has begun physical therapy. So far, his family in Australia hasn’t been able to get to Honduras. Fundraisers and financial donations from friends of Roatan have already netted thousands of dollars to help offset medical expenses, but in a recent Facebook note, O’Donnell (who may face as much as a year of recovery) has serious concerns about ever returning to the island:

    “I wanted to invest some money into a dive shop that would have kept me there for years but now I´m not so sure. Even when Sam Wesley finally goes to jail I will have the rest of his family to contend with forever.”

    Sam Wesley remains under house arrest waiting for his first hearing, which is scheduled for September 14. Yet according to witnesses, he’s since been seen and photographed well outside of those court-imposed limits.

    “The powers that be don’t want to upset the cruiseline applecart (the golden goose),” said a East Ender robbed at gunpoint last year who didn’t want her name used. “At the last ‘security’ meeting we attended at Mahogany Bay (after the rash of violent crimes last winter) we were basically told to keep our mouths shut and not upset the visitors by telling the world what was going on down here. We were told that if people quit coming here, more violence would manifest itself due to the lack of cruise line provided jobs. They really don’t give a **** and just want their $$ to keep coming in.”

    –A different version of this story originally appeared online on hondurasweekly.com
  4. webedivin2000

    webedivin2000 Dive Shop

    This is such a tragedy. I worked with Sam Wesley at Anthony's Key where he was a Divemaster, I was Photo Pro from 1981 to 1989. He was a great guy, however his wife was a little off balance back then. I am not condoning what happened. Sam did the crime and he will need to pay the consequences.
    Just a sad situation for all involved and I hope the gentleman shot has a full and healthy recovery.
  5. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest

    # of Dives:
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
  6. RTBDiver

    RTBDiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Jacksonville Fl/ Roatan Honduras
    No, Not really.At least not for those somewhat familiar with Honduras
    Indian Valley Scuba and Doc like this.
  7. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest

    # of Dives:
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    Well, I can't say I'm overly familiar with Roatan and Honduras, but I did spend two months on a vessel diving between Belize City and Utila. The scientific and other staff were told never to go into town alone on the mainland at Puerto Cortez (I think that was the mainland port we stopped at before heading to Utila).
  8. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives:
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year with
    These kinds of threads always make me a little goofier than I normally am.

    If you live and work on Roatan, you should be well aware of the perils inherent. This is different than being a casual visitor for a dive vacation.

    That is a Belize port city. Whenever I was on the mainland of Belize, I always was hyper-aware of my surroundings. However... The Belize Cayes are quite different. That is where you go to dive. No fears.

    If you had made landing in Roatan's Harborage, "Coxen Hole", I doubt anyone would have given you any hint of danger. I don't especially recommend CH at night, but then again- there is nothing open there at night that would interest anyone that would inquire.

    Roatan, for the dive visitor, is not much of a threat. I still wouldn't wander off from tourist areas or your AI at odd hours into the night, but so far Roatan has not dis-proven the old law enforcement rule: friends kill friends. Random violence is not to be expected.

    As with any locale- the further you stay away from bars, drinking, night-time, and making happy-talk with some local's girlfriend, you've about covered it as a tourist.

    Moving in, setting up a business, becoming a resident, shacking-up with somebody's ex, doing transactions, acting like a local... that's an entirely different level of exposure. I do not recommend this path freely in the Bay Islands.
    CajunDiva likes this.
  9. koozemani

    koozemani Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Tucson, AZ
    Absolutely nuts. As this impacts the tourism industry, you would think they would crack down on overt violence in the streets. When I visit a resort, the last thing I want to hear is that the DM is not available because the resort owner shot him for leaning his bike on some bushes.
    Jax likes this.
  10. vladimir

    vladimir Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Yes, they know that--you probably won't hear about it when you visit:

    I may be a little out of the mainstream on this, but I value well-tended landscaping. If a little blood has to be shed to maintain the shrubbery, so be it.


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