Bodies of American boy and J’can raft captain found

MARTHA BRAE, Trelawny — The search for five-year-old American Jace Jones and 65-year-old Jamaican Llewellyn Reid ended yesterday when their bodies were recovered from the Martha Brae River, where they drowned Tuesday during a rafting excursion.

The five-year-old and his two older brothers were visiting relatives on the island when they went to the popular attraction.


After hours of searching the river, a team of local divers found the bodies a short distance apart after they surfaced on the water about 2:00 pm, onlookers told the Observer.

The search began on Tuesday afternoon after Jace, who lived in Massachusetts, fell off the raft about 1:30 pm during a ride on the river with his three male siblings, ages ranging from five to nine, and their female cousin.


Reid, who lived in the district of Zion in Trelawny, and who was piloting the raft, jumped into the water to save the child but was unsuccessful.

The children were eventually rescued from the raft after it drifted to a section of the river bank.

Yesterday Jace’s mother, Kerry Innis, was overcome with emotion when she got to the scene just before her son’s body was removed by undertakers. Innis had travelled directly to the attraction after her flight from the United States landed at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.

She broke down in tears and had to be supported by friends and her son’s father, Jermaine Jones.

Meanwhile, Reid’s distraught brother was overheard saying that while he dearly missed the man people refer to as “Bagga Jagga”, he appreciated that the bodies were found.

“He is our biggest brother and we will miss him immensely. It is such a tragic occasion. He was such a good swimmer; we never expected his life to end this way,” the brother stated.

Between sips of what appeared to be alcoholic beverage in a plastic cup, a raft captain also spoke of Reid’s ability to swim.

“He was a very great swimmer, so what happen is maybe he was trapped by logs in the water and it hampered his mobility,” the man speculated.

On Wednesday Johnny Gourzong, operator of Rafter’s Village, who expressed sorrow at the tragedy, pointed out that the attraction’s policy is for rafters to be geared in life jackets before starting the ride down the river.

Yesterday, the Observer was told by a source that the children took off their life jackets after one started to complain that it was irritating his skin.