Reports form news media in the United States of America, have revealed the identity of the tourist who was killed in the double murder case that occurred on Sunday, June 23, 2019. The tourist has been identified as Roanoke, Virgina cardiologist Dr. Gary Swank; who was found dead along with local tour guide Mario Graniel Jr.
Swank was an interventional cardiologist ,medical director of Carilion Clinic's Cardiac Catheterization Lab and an associate professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke, according to WDBJ. According to his clinic, Dr. Swank was a well-respected and well-loved colleague. He was vacationing with his wife and three children in Belize when he was killed.
“We are heartbroken at his loss. Dr. Swank was a well-respected and well-loved colleague who, each and every day, embodied the values that we hold dear. His absence leaves a void in our team and in our community. Our thoughts, prayers and attention are now focused on helping his family navigate this difficult time.” - a statement from Chris Turnbull, director of corporate communications with Carilion Clinic .
The San Pedro Tour Operators Association had this to say about the tragic incident: “It has been a year that we have been calling: “for the love of San Pedro.” Love for a tourism industry that provides for our entire community. Today we have failed to keep our guests safe from the crime that rips our country. We cannot allow crime to prevail and we gotta keep working harder. Safety has been our core priority at the San Pedro Tour Operators Association and we pledge to keep working with the enforcement agencies to safeguard our work force and the visitors. We ask all tour guides and tour operators to comply with all safety and licensing requirements. And to participate in the various membership organizations so your voice can be heard loud and clear. We extend our most sincere condolences to our tourism partners that lost their life today to crime and violence. It’s a sad day for our community but we will not be defeated.”
San Pedro Tour Guide Mario Graniel in background
The Belize Game Fish Conservation Network also had great things to say about Mario Graniel: “We won't be high and mighty about the crime in Belize, the sad reality is that it's a product of the environment we foster. But every person lost to it is irreplaceable. The BGFCN family would like to express our sincerest condolences to the families of Mario Graniel and Gary Swank. Mr. Graniel was a huge help to us in our early days and our second, third and fourth issue all used pictures he sent in either for our covers, inner artwork or our poster artwork. He would always message us pictures of big tarpon whenever he and a client would land one. No one deserves to go out that way especially someone so kind hearted.”