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Slayings shock super-yacht industry

  • Story Highlights
  • Australian captain Drew Gollan shot dead in Antigua on January 22
  • U.S. yacht chef Sara Kuszak was abducted and killed in Puerto Rico last week
  • Reports indicate some yachts and crew members leaving Caribbean
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By Mike Steere
For CNN
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CORRECTION. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Sara Kuszak was abducted from Puerto del Rey marina in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. CNN wishes to clarify that the abduction did not occur in or near Puero del Rey Marina. Sara was abducted while jogging in Ceiba more than two kilometers away from the Marina, where the yacht she visited was berthed until February 10, 2009. Sara travelled by car to Ceiba's running track.

(CNN) -- The slayings of two super-yacht staff within two weeks have shaken the luxury yacht industry and sparked calls for crews to exercise extreme caution.

English Harbor, Antigua, where Australian luxury yacht captain Drew Gollan was murdered in January.

Australian luxury yacht captain Drew Gollan was killed in January in English Harbor, Antigua.

Both slayings occurred in popular yachting destinations in the Caribbean and involved violent attacks.

Last week, U.S. luxury yacht chef Sara Kuszak, of Savannah, Georgia, was killed after being abducted during a morning run in Puerto Rico. The body of Kuszak, who was five months pregnant, was found with a slashed throat in a field. A local man has been arrested by police in connection with the incident.

On January 22, Australian Drew Gollan, captain of Perini Navi yacht Perseus, was shot dead in what was described as a "failed robbery" in English Harbor, Antigua.

Gollan, 38, was described as a "widely respected member of the yachting community." His death came less than a year after the double killing of a British couple on the island. Suspects have been arrested and charged with murder in both cases.

Antigua, in particular, is highly dependent on the luxury yacht industry to boost its local economy -- and it appears news of the crimes is already having a negative impact.

In a press release, the Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting acknowledged that "a number of boats have decided to leave Antigua in the wake of this incident." Further reports from yachting magazine SuperYachtWorld suggest several captains on the island have also decided to leave.

Meanwhile, luxury yacht staff who are remaining in the Caribbean have been urged by industry Web site yotcru.com to "exercise vigilant personal safety at all times."

After the death of Gollan, local Antigua politicians and yacht industry representatives held an emergency meeting to discuss the problem.

At the meeting, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, said: "Antigua is still a safe place to be. It's an unfortunate situation, however we are all hoping that justice will be done," SuperYachtWorld reported.

Spencer also pledged new security efforts to help prevent future crimes.

An international charter company manager and luxury yacht industry expert, Els Bucknell, said yacht crews and clients were "shocked and saddened" by the deaths, and there would likely be a short-term impact on the Caribbean region.

"Most people assumed that this part of Antigua was safe and I think it has come as a shock," she said. "Some boats have already left and I think you will see some of that."

However, Bucknell felt the incident would not affect the region in the long term.

"People do forget about these things over time ... and the local business people with police and other authorities have made a serious attempt to make it safer.

"The economy being the way it is has more to do with how business operates than these kind of things," she said.

All About Antigua and BarbudaCaribbeanCrimeMurder and Homicide

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