Toronto man’s death by speedboat in Cuba shrouded in secrecy


Gigel Tonea’s family are frustrated by the lack of information coming from Cuban police about what happened to him while snorkelling.

After a chaotic few hours seeking answers — Where was her husband taken? Could she see him? How was he doing? — she says she was brought to the hotel lobby, where a resort employee delivered the devastating news.

Gigel, a vibrant 66-year-old dental technician and father of three, was dead.

The Toronto man’s grieving family is now left with questions about what led to Gigel’s death and reeling from the way they say Anca was treated.

The Toneas say Cuban officials did not allow Anca to see her husband’s body, asked her to identify him using just the mass-produced flippers he had brought from Toronto, and — most painfully — failed to inform her of the cause of death while she was still in Cuba. Until she arrived in Toronto the following day, Anca says, she believed Gigel had suffered a stroke or gone into cardiac arrest in the water.

It wasn’t until her three kids used Google to translate the Spanish police report, they say, that they learned he was run over by a speedboat while snorkeling.

“It was the word ‘propeller’ that told us,” said her eldest, Alexander Dandy, referring to a Cuban police report that says Gigel suffered fatal injuries to his head and back after being struck by the boat. “The idea that she left Cuba without knowing how he died, that’s very sinister.”

The Provincial Criminal Investigation Unit in Cuba is now investigating the case. That’s standard procedure for cases involving a foreigner’s death, according to Yoan Dominguez, the Canadian consular officer assigned to the case. The incident could constitute a homicide offence, says the police report provided to the family.

The police unit responsible could not be reached for comment. Dominguez refused repeated requests from the Star to provide contact information for the appropriate investigators.

 

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