OTTAWA — A Canadian woman who watched gunmen shoot and kill her father in Honduras and then managed to escape was safely in Belize on Saturday, family members and authorities said.
After the attack that occurred on Milan Egrmajer’s boat, his daughter Myda Egrmajer, 24, was rescued and taken to neighbouring Belize, her uncle Kelly Wilson said.
The details of how she survived remained a mystery to both the family and authorities.
“We don’t know how it happened,” Wilson told The Canadian Press in an interview from his home in Mahone Bay, N.S.
The family was told her father, Milan Egrmajer, 55, was killed, Wilson said.
Myda, originally from Ottawa, was visiting her father who has been living on his boat for the past couple of years, Wilson said.
The details of how the woman managed to escape the attack, which occurred in a remote Honduran lagoon are still a mystery to the local authorities investigating the crime.
The Canadians had been sailing from the Honduran island of Utila in the direction of Belize when they hit bad weather on Thursday, Leonel Sauceda of the Honduran Public Security department told The Canadian Press.
They wound up docking at a remote lagoon called El Diamante, which is known to boaters in the area as a place to overnight. Sometime around 9pm Thursday, Sauceda said a small boat apparently arrived at the lagoon. It’s not clear what unfolded next, but Milan Egrmajer’s body was found inside the boat by authorities on Friday. His body had four bullet wounds to the chest and abdomen.
Sauceda said there is no information on how the woman was able to get away from the attackers. She made distress calls with the yacht’s radio, and Sauceda said they believe she was picked up by a commercial oil vessel.
Honduran police could not reach the site until Friday because of bad weather. Egrmajer’s body was sent to a forensic lab in the city of San Pedro Sula.
“This is a very isolated area, there are no police there,” Sauceda said. “This type of thing has never happened there before.”
But in late November, a French couple reported they had been attacked by six machete-wielding men as they sailed through nearby Puerto Escondido. The couple was not harmed, but their belongings were stolen.
U.S. helicopters transported Egrmajer to Belize, where she had been communicating with Canadian authorities, said Melvin Duarte, a spokesman for the Honduras’ prosecutor’s office.
Wilson described his niece as a “delightful girl” who graduated from Trent University in Peterborough, Ont. a few years ago and is still trying to figure out what to do.
He said the tragic event would surely change her perspective on things.
“She’s a really nice kid,” he said.
Milan Egrmajer, who was previously married to Wilson’s sister, was a former member of the Canadian Navy and an avid sailor, according to a website he maintained.
He continued to operate an engineering consulting company from his sailboat, according to the website.
“The idea of sailing has always tempted me and, as usual, there are a host of other reasons for such a voyage to be only a far off dream,” he wrote.
“Circumstances changed in 2005, and I made the decision to fulfil this dream in the fall of that year.”
His last entry was in April 2010.
Tributes from people who knew Egrmajer were being posted on a website devoted to promoting the nearby Rio Dulce region of Izabal, Guatemala.
“What a terrible shame for a good life to come to an end for the hope of a few dollars,” one person wrote.
“I am sick to my stomach,” another person posted.
Other people said travellers should stay out of Honduras until the assailants were apprehended.
“It looks like that little corner of the world has become unacceptably dangerous,” one person warned.
Foreign Affairs has confirmed an incident involving the two Canadians in Honduras, but would not elaborate.