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US couple whose yacht was hijacked reportedly died

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US couple whose yacht was hijacked reportedly died

SAN JUAN (AP) — An elderly American couple whose catamaran was hijacked over the weekend in the Caribbean by three escaped prisoners was likely thrown into the ocean and died, Grenada police said Monday.

The announcement is a blow to those who independently collaborated in the search for Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel and hoped that they were still alive.

Don McKenzie, police commissioner of the Royal Grenada Police Force, said at a news conference that the three prisoners escaped on February 18 from the South Saint George Police Station. They hijacked the catamaran “Simplicity” on February 19 and headed to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where they were arrested last Wednesday, he said.

“Information suggests that while traveling between Grenada and St. Vincent, they disposed of the passengers,” McKenzie said.

When asked for more details about what happened, the commissioner responded: “We have nothing conclusive to say that the individuals are dead. We still hold out hope that, despite what might be a low probability, they will turn up alive somewhere.”

He noted that he was “a little limited” in the information he could share with the public because the investigation was ongoing, and because authorities in Grenada do not yet have much information.

“The information I have is limited and can be considered second-hand, as I have had very limited conversations about the details of the investigation with my Vincentian counterpart,” McKenzie stated.

St. Vincent police could not immediately be reached for comment.

The nonprofit Salty Dawg Sailing Association said Hendry and Brandel were “veteran sailors” and long-time members of the association, noting they were “caring and capable.”

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According to the association, the couple had sailed the yacht in last year’s Caribbean Rally from Hampton, Virginia, to Antigua, and were spending the winter sailing in the eastern Caribbean.

A son of Hendry and another of Brandel did not return messages seeking comment.

A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the couple’s family noted that Brandel had recently become a grandmother for the first time, and that the boating community was “devastated” by what happened.

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