US Embassy Barbados: Death of RSO George Gaines “Unnatural,” Investigation Ongoing

On May 13, we posted here about the reported death of George Gaines, the Regional Security Officer at the US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados.  Over the weekend, we have also sent an email to the Public Affairs Officer of US Embassy Barbados and to the Royal Barbados Police Force. As of this writing, the embassy has not acknowledged nor responded to our query.  Neither the embassy nor the State Department has released an official statement on Mr. Gaines’ death.

The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) did confirm to us via email on May 14 that it is investigating the death of Mr. Gaines.  RBPF says that under Barbados laws, this death is being treated as unnatural and a Coroner’s Inquest will be held in the future to determine whether or not it was a suicide.  The Police also confirmed that a firearm was found at the scene and the body had a wound to the head.

Below is one of the last official photos we can locate of George Gaines, as one of the crew members of the Lancelot II during the Round Barbados Race in January 2012:

Crew of the Lancelot II included: Victor Henken, Brian Greaney, Mike Biggins, George Gaines, Bill Hobbs, Jerry Aylward, Kit Rosenstein, Fred Melton, Joe Cowan, Mark McHugh, and Stephanie Palisek.
(Photo from US Embassy Barbados website)

Via US Embassy blog and press statement, January 2012:

The Round Barbados Race dates back to the 19th century and is based upon bragging rights for the fastest “trading schooner” – a prize worth its weight in gold to captains in an era where boats competed for cargo business and the fastest cargo won a hefty premium.  The slowest boat won a consolation prize of a barrel of Mount Gay Rum, a practice discontinued after two boats remained out at sea for days, stalling to win the rum!

The modern event is held on January 21, a day celebrating Errol Barrow, Barbados’s first Prime Minister and an avid sailor.  It’s sponsored by Mount Gay Rum, and the prize for a new record in any existing class is the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Rum Extra Old.

This year, the Embassy’s Charlie Hillyer took up the challenge from the Barbados Cruising Club’s Commodore to find a boat and a U.S. crew.  Captain Charlie found two Beneteau 40s and Shanghaied 22 sailors who, while courageous and willing, had varying degrees of sailing expertise.


Team USA, on board Lancelot II met the challenge of the open sea’s and 29 other seasoned sailing vessels, crewed by seasoned sailors in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race 2012 on Saturday January 21, to take first place in Class 60′ and under.

They bore the brunt of gusting 25 knot winds, 12 foot rollers from the North Atlantic, slippery decks and vessels that seemed to go every way but straight !!!!Even under these extreme conditions they prevailed and made a lasting mark on the sailing community of Barbados and other boats from foreign ports.

Crew of the Lancelot II included: Victor Henken, Brian Greaney, Mike Biggins, George Gaines, Bill Hobbs, Jerry Aylward, Kit Rosenstein, Fred Melton, Joe Cowan, Mark McHugh, and Stephanie Palisek.

US Embassy Barbados is a medium sized-post with approximately 60 direct hire Americans. The grief from this tragic event will be deep and painful especially for a small community like the embassy.

5 responses

  1. I first met George when he was about four years old. Throughout the years he was always the bright light in the crowd… This is incomprehensible.

    May he rest in peace.

  2. George was a great colleague – we served together for a couple of years in the mid-90s. I still remember meeting him and his family at the Amsterdam airport when I was his social sponsor. A real professional, wonderful person and a dedicated family man – yes, he will be missed.

    And thanks for this posting. When I saw the Dept announcement I wondered what happened. And your blog had the answers, though not what I expected. My prayers go out to his wife and daughter.

    • Paul, this is heartbreaking story. From what I hear, he is a great guy, well-liked and well-thought of professionally. Thank you for sharing your memory of him.