By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
FAMILY and friends of slain Cuban-American and Bimini resident Alain Perez, 47, have maintained they volunteered to fly the victim off the island to a Florida hospital after he was shot — pleas they claim were “ignored” by Bahamian officials.
However, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday described the offer to transport Perez unattended as “inappropriate”.
Instead, Dr Sands reiterated air ambulances from Florida and Nassau “with appropriate staffing” were contacted, as he doubled down on his defence of local efforts to save Perez’s life.
Dr Sands also said he is “satisfied” that Perez’s care was “appropriately managed”.
Dr Sands made these remarks during his contribution in the House of Assembly yesterday.
Perez, a father-of-three and owner of Big John’s Bar and Grill in Bimini, was shot and killed Sunday around 1am.
Describing the incident, Perez’s roommate told police the victim heard reportedly knocking at the door of his condo and when he opened it, he was shot multiple times in torso by a mystery assailant.
The murder has shocked Perez’s relatives, friends, and community.
Jose Perez, son of the victim, told South Florida’s NBC 6 that his family attempted to airlift his father, but were not assisted by Bahamian officials.
“Jose Perez said the family had put down a $100,000 deposit to have his father airlifted, and had worked out a back-up plan to have the US Coast Guard pick him up at sea, but Bahamas authorities didn’t help the rescue effort,” according to the NBC report.
Mr Perez told the station: “Coast Guard said ‘if you can get him on a boat, get him five or six miles out, we will be able to pick him up. The police over there were not allowing that, they were saying they have orders. Until they were given the okay they were not going to release him. There’s two planes that were ready to go, the helicopter, they were not giving them permission.”
Mariana Cancio, a Miami attorney who described Perez as a “friend of the family”, expressed similar sentiments to the Miami Herald.
“She said her son-in-law and his family were in Alice Town when Perez was shot and that Bahamian authorities at the clinic where he died ignored pleas for up to three hours to fly Perez to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami,” the Herald article reports.
Dr Sands responded to these allegations in the House of Assembly yesterday.
“I wish to address erroneous reports about the quality of health care that Mr Perez received at the clinic in Bimini, and the mischaracterisation of the clinic as inadequate,” Dr Sands said.
“At the clinic, Mr Perez received Advanced Trauma Life Support treatment, which is used by medical providers in the management of acute trauma cases. All efforts to seek specialist care were made.
“The offer to transport Mr Perez unattended in an airplane on the ramp without medical staff was inappropriate, and therefore air ambulances from Florida and Nassau with appropriate staffing were contacted.”
Dr Sands reiterated the clinic in Alice Town, Bimini is “well-equipped and modern” and offers services that are “appropriate” for the community.
“The clinic is also staffed by a full-time Bahamian board-certified physician, supported a qualified medical team,” he added. “The facility is comparable to the facilities serving small communities in most countries.”
Dr Sands noted Perez “presented in shock” from the multiple gunshot wounds and succumbed to his injuries “less than two hours after his arrival at the clinic”.
He added Perez’s body was flown to Nassau and an autopsy was set to be performed yesterday.
He offered condolences to Perez’s family and underscored the situation is under active investigation by the Bahamian police.