Yesterday began as a beautiful day for vacationers on Ambergris Caye, an island getaway off the coast of Belize. Marvin Hazim Yono, a 39-year-old Michigan resident, traveled by jet ski to an area west of Ambergris Caye called “Secret Beach” with a friend. There they encountered a group of vacationers and islanders, as “Secret Beach” is a popular destination.
Around 2:30 pm, Marvin invited 29-year-old Rickilee Michelle Mercer for a ride on his jet ski. An accountant from Texas, Ms. Mercer was also on vacation. Together Marvin and Rickilee rode west from Secret Beach, at which point they both fell into the water. Marvin reports swimming to shore while Rickilee swam back to the jet ski. This was the last time he saw her.
Once back on shore, Marvin and the other vacationers began searching for Rickilee. Locals allegedly spotted a woman on a jet ski “drifting” toward Cayo Espanto, a few miles southwest of where Marvin and the other visitors were located. However, this has not been confirmed to be Rickilee. Investigators suspect that Rickilee has drowned.
The Belize Coast Guard and local police are in charge of the search and investigation of the case. Our thoughts are with Ms. Mercer and her family, and we hope she is found alive and well.