A U.S. diplomatic staffer temporary assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota reportedly went missing and is presumed dead after a boating accident in Colombia. The name of the staffer has not been officially released. During his press remarks with Colombia President Ivan Duque in Bogota, Secretary Pompeo commented on the accident that reportedly occurred on Saturday:
Pompeo: I want to comment on the tragic loss that Mission Colombia and the entire State Department suffered this past weekend. As you may already know, one of our team members, an American, is missing and presumed dead as a result of a boating accident that occurred on Saturday. We’ve notified the next of kin but are withholding the name of the victim for privacy considerations. Other government personnel – some assigned to Colombia and others visiting – were also rescued at the scene of the accident. Some sustained modest injuries, and one was airlifted to the United States yesterday for treatment.
I want to thank President Duque – you, and your team, and your government – also the private citizens of Colombia – for the outstanding assistance that they provided during the course of the rescue operations. And to my entire State Department team, Susan and I are with you in your grief. You have my word the department will do everything in our power to comfort and support those who have suffered from this devastating loss.
President Duque (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, dear Secretary Pompeo. I would also like first of all to express our solidarity and our condolences. Our solidarity for the incident that occurred over the weekend, which was an accident and that affected some U.S. citizens, and naturally express our condolences for what has been a several-days search for embassy officials.
As you all know, we have the national navy teams as well as all the local and coast guard services engaged in the corresponding investigation in an effort to reach fruitful results so as to find the body of the person that has not been found yet. You know, Secretary Pompeo, that we have a shared solidarity in this respect and the people of Colombia regret the incident.
The Colombian Navy released a statement of the incident on Monday, January 20. It looks like the boat capsized due to adverse weather condition in the Cartagena area. During the incident, 11 of the 12 passengers of the boat were reportedly assisted by the Colombian Navy. The victim of the accident is described in the Colombian Navy statement as a temporary official of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota and was in the company of several fellow citizens.
The Colombian Navy with the Cartagena Coast Guard, specialized naval divers and aircraft of the Caribbean Aeronaval Group, and with the support of aircraft of the Combat Air Command No. 3 of the Colombian Air Force were reportedly deployed in the area of the incident performing the search operation. The Colombian Navy statement also says that it will continue with the search and rescue operation while inviting the navigators community to report any information that may assist in locating missing person.
CNN’s report includes comments from the WHA bureau:
A spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told CNN that the employee was “on temporary assignment to the US Embassy in Bogota” and was “engaging in tourist activities in Cartagena” when the boating accident occurred.
The top US diplomat, speaking alongside the Colombian president in Bogota, said the boating accident occurred on Saturday and that other government personnel had been involved. https://t.co/dp6Jdm7r9q
— Jennifer Hansler (@jmhansler) January 20, 2020
.@SecPompeo met with #Colombia’s President @IvanDuque and Foreign Minister Blum in Bogota today. The strong U.S-Colombian partnership resulted in much progress on the shared goal to cut cocaine production in half within five years. pic.twitter.com/ZCr1PfkeCA
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) January 21, 2020