January 10, 2007

LOST IN PARADISE? IGNORE IT...IT'S BAD FOR TOURISM




TRENTON -- A Trenton business executive is missing on the rugged Caribbean island of Saba (the smallest island in the Netherland Antilles) where he was last seen on Dec. 27, his former wife said yesterday. Joel D. Gove, of the Glen Afton section of the city, went hiking on the tiny island of Saba after buying a bottle of water at a store along the All Too Far Trail. The trail led to a sulfur mine, where the 47-year-old disappeared.


"Another hiker ...who just left the sulfur mine...was the last one to see him at about 11:45 in the morning," said Amy Gonzales, his former wife and mother of their daughter, Georgia, 5. "The hiker said he looked healthy, happy, in great shape and he wasn’t sweating. He didn’t look like he was in any distress."


Gonzalez, of Ewing, is a geologist and professional wetland scientist with AK Environmental LLC, located in West Trenton. The news has co-workers, Gonzalez and other family members shocked and dismayed. Gonzales dropped Gove off at the Trenton Train Station on Dec. 25 for a flight the next day out of Newark International Airport to the island.


A nature lover, he went there over the Christmas holiday, as he did on many occasions if he is not going to be with his family, to hike and explore the islands. Known as a world traveler, Gove has been all over the planet photographing cliffs, landscapes, hotels, and other things to give people an idea of where he went, said co-worker Lynn Ashton.


Saba, an island of high, rocky cliffs and trails, is a total of five square miles of mostly unspoiled land and has 1,400 residents, according to the 2004 census. It is known as a place where tourists go to scuba dive or hike and has a rain forest, tidepools, historic ruins and rich natural features with fantastic views.


Gove, owner of Habitat Management and Design Inc. on West State Street and an environmental consultant, checked into the Hotel Elmomo when he arrived, which is located on the Windward side of the island. The missing man told hotel workers that if he felt good enough after he finished walking the All Too Far Trail, that he would hike the Spring Bay Trail, but co-workers said there was no evidence that he ever made it that far. "He does an extensive search whenever he plans a trip and leaves a detailed itinerary for us with emergency numbers," Ashton said. "He never said anything to us about going to a mine."


Officials at the hotel didn’t know he was missing until Dec. 30, two days later, when he was scheduled to return, Gonzales said. They found Gove’s passport and personal items in his room, indicating that he didn’t leave the island. Co-workers said he didn’t have a reason to leave the island. Dutch officials launched a massive search using boats, the Coast Guard, tracking dogs, trackers, helicopters and search parties to locate the missing tourist, but to no avail. Finally Gonzales, Gove’s brother Brad and co-workers flew down to the island on Jan. 1, to help in the search.


"He might have stepped off a trail and ... When we arrived we were all very stressed. We wanted to go search for him. But we were taken to a room in the police station and interrogated by island officials," Gonzales said.


"They asked questions about his habits, personality traits -- the strangest questions. They were upset because he is the first person ever who has gone missing on the island."


Gonzales said they talked to officials with the island’s tourism bureau and asked if they could put up posters around to ask if anyone had seen Gove, but they declined the request. "It would be very bad for island tourism, they told us," Gonzales said.



Finally, the next day the group was able to follow Gove’s footsteps along the trail, but found nothing. "At least we thought we were doing something," Ashton said. "This is surreal. This man is a successful, determined man who strives to be the best and wouldn’t walk out. He has a strong will and is passionate about politics and children." Gove rarely took a cell phone with him, even when he was working in the field, co-workers said. "He would always lose them," Ashton said. "Besides, one of us was always with him and we all have cell phones to use." In addition, cell phones don’t work on Saba, Gonzales said.


His brother is still on the island, keeping those back home abreast of what’s happening. Because the search is expensive and now exhausted, an account has been set up to collect donations to fund and expand the search, said Lynne Azarchi, executive director of Kidsbridge Children’s Museum. Gove has served on the board of directors of Kidsbridge since 1996, Azarchi said. "Joel is an incredible, devoted, passionate board member from the beginning of this organization," Azarchi said. "He’s just a great guy, incredible father, and an amazing human being. He’s very committed to the revitalization of Trenton."


Donations can be sent in care of Kidsbridge, c/o Yardville National Bank, 4556 S. Broad St., 2nd Floor, Yardville, N.J. 08620.



21 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Dutch criminals are good at disposing the bodies, taking advantage of the flaw of the Dutch Law. Obviously Dutch Law protects the criminals, not the victims. Their evil is in line with their illegal drug and human trafficking economy. The jail time for the J2K was a joke. Joran had a air-conditioned cell and DVD player and chocolate cake for his birthday. Another conspiracy is the stolen Iraq war materiel were hidden in some of these Antillies islands by the Dutch. The NJ exploror happened to stumble on one of those stolen arms traps and killed by the Dutch snipper. Apparently his body was blown into pieces and fed to the sharks. As a patternalistic coverup corruption intuition, the island Dutch police blamed the victim.

Anonymous said...

2007 will cause more deaths of American tourists vacationing in Aruba and their associated islands. The failure of the Iraq war has something to do with it. The Dutch think the American tourists are weak and stupid, and they are easy prey. To stop being the next victim, just say no, and stay out of Aruba, the harm's way. The Dutch are murderers and predators. You will hear more of the Dutch crimes in Iraq when the Congressional investigators released their reports on the Iraq war coverups.

Anonymous said...

Some island Dutch are ferocious gay rapists and murderers. This good natured man might have been the victim. Many gay Dutch live on these small Antillies. There are many Dutch porno extreme videos about these gay Dutchmen sold in Holland. The motel usually tipped the targeted victim off to the killers for a fee. Again, rape drugs are ofen dipped into the raped man's water bottle.

Anonymous said...

Like Ramm said before, gay right and secret identity are legal and guaranteed by the Dutch Law. The Saba Dutch police cannot get DNA samples from the suspect gay rapists on that tiny island. This is another mistake in the Dutch Law criminal code. Netherlands has the highest gay rape and murder crimes in last couple years. All are cold cases after two years of inactive investigations by the Royal Dutch Police. Gay sex is a holly matter in Dutch politics. Many Dutch powerful politicians are gay. The Dutch army has a special regiment for gay soldiers said to be the best fighters sent to the Iraq war zone to guard the oil pipelines there in Southern Iraq oil seaport.

Anonymous said...

So many people read the ArubanBoycott content, and many criminals and con artists are sending out Dutch Law spam mail to hurt people. Some spam mail said you can mail order some pot from Netherlands with a Dutch Law approved label.

Anonymous said...

The Dutch Law mutates itself into code of secret packets that shelter the criminals and suppress the victims. The new bbo attachment can tax the poor prostitutes 100% via the pimps with prejudice. The NY Mafia are adopting the Dutch Law as the Code of Lamb, replacing the century old Scilian codification. The Dutch Law is steathy, brutal and merciless. For all the gangsters, they are very fearful of this new No Body, No Case thing. Which means that their whole extended family can be vanished without a trace in New York if any of them runners are out of step.

Darren Johnson said...

I am highly offended by these comments and cannot believe americans cans be soo damn shallow. I was born and raised on the island of Saba. I left there after 18 years to pursue my college career. I am proud to be known as a Saban. I find it highly offensive that you ignorant americans think that Dutch people are all gay rapist and murderers. I think you should look at your own front door step and see what is going on in your own country before you talk bad about others. How many children go missing, are abused by their parents and are raped on a daily basis that go unreported and even if they do, the american law system is more flawed than the Dutch system. Your own syndecation show Law & Order and easily prove that( ripped from the headlines ring a bell?)Think about how many people on vacation to America fall victim to these same crimes. I was one of these victims. Don't even start on the drugs! Are you kidding me!??!?!? With the amount of drugs flowing in from Canada and Mexico being fed to your own friends,family and kids.

Anonymous said...

Just a simple verification: cell phones DO work on Saba, I own two, yes, two, meaning there is even more than 1 company that offers cell service!
Thank you!

Anne Richter said...

It is interesting to note that the ridiculous comments about gangs of "ferocious gay rapists" and "Iraqi war materials" being on Saba were posted anonymously. Clearly, not one of these individuals (a)has ever been to Saba (b) could even find Saba on a map or (c) had ever even heard of Saba until now.

My maternal famly was one of the first families to settle the island over 400 years ago. Although I was born and raised in the US, my ties to Saba are strong, I own a home there and visit regularly. Crime is almost non-existent and violent crime is a rarity. Given the crime rate in Trenton, NJ, Mr. Gove was far more at risk to be a crime victim in his hometown than on Saba.

Saba is a 5 square mile island, with a popluation of about 1400, that attracts tourists who want peace and quiet, great scuba diving and hiking. Hikers often underestimate the difficulty of some of the hikling trails on Saba and are encouraged not to hike alone. Some trails are along cliffs that drop hundreds of feet to the ocean.

Virtually the entire local population has been looking for Mr. Gove. To suggest that the local population on Saba is something less than concerned about Mr.Gove and his family is an outrage. If you have neverbeen to Saba,then you are in no position to disparage the island or its people.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr Grove's family/Ex-wife should have gone in more details concerning him disappearing on Saba.
How when local police searched his villa there was drugs amounce his private stuff.To mention some extacy.
Or the fact there was a journal with 9 possible ways to vanish away.
Why was that not included on this blog??????
Or that he asked a local if one were to dissapear how long would it take to find someone.
Why could not he have done this back home people go missing every day and sometimes people never know what happened.
I was happy to hear that FBI agents arrived to get all the information for himself.
Please include all the facts oooh ohh and not to mention that when his ex-wife had to find out while investigation was preceding he was banging the secretary!
Thats probably why he had to run away that and money problems.

Tara Hassell said...

I was born and raised in Saba, and since I have lived in Florida for the past 9 years. In Florida i go to sleep with deadbolts and double locks and alarm system. When I lived on Saba, I could go to sleep with my doors and windows wide open. I could walk anywhere on the island at 4am, and not have to worry about anything happening. Thats Saba. Virtually crime free. There is a zero murder rate. So for those of you who want to voice your ignorant opinions, do your research yourself. America is a great country, I love living here, but do not mislead people into thinking it is the ONLY great country.

Kathleen Hassell said...

Like some commentors before me, my family is from Saba and I grew up in the "states". I lived in Saba for more than 30 years, and fell in love with the island and its people during my first visit here in 1965. It's sad that Joel's disappearance is starting a war on words and setting the stage for misunderstandings and miscommunication. My husband, his brother, brother-in-law, and nephew were some of the volunteers who helped to search for Joel on New Year's Day. The people of Saba have given their all in trying to find Joel, and to imply that we don't care is an insult to all of us. Once again, I feel embarrassed to be an American citizen when I read these blogs that Americans know everything and we know nothing. Remember that it's a foreign country and respect our way of doing things, even if you don't agree. And when you don't like how things are going, speak up to the authorities instead of behind their backs and after you leave. If I was missing in the U.S. and my husband and family came to look for me, they would have to abide by the laws of the Americans and the WAY they conduct searches. Remember it takes TIME from when a person is declared missing and a reasonable search time has elapsed before further assistance can be requested AND it takes TIME for a new team to get to Saba and MONEY to finance the searches, too. Try to look at it from our side for once. The nasty comments made previously won't help in the search for Joel, which should be everyone's goal.It's sad how people take advantage of these tragic circumstances to push their own warped agendas.

SONYA JOHNSON said...

I THINK THOSE OF YOU WHO WROTE NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT THE ISLAND OF SABA ARE IN FOR A RUDE AWAKENING.WE,SABANS, ARE NOT GOING TO SIT BACK AND LET YOU DEGRADE SABA . SABA IS KNOWN AS THE UNSPOILED QUEEN, AND WILL ALWAYS BE KNOWN AS THE UNSPOILED QUEEN. I THINK GONZALES HAS PAINTED A NICE PICTURE OF HER EX HUSBAND BUT WHAT SHE FAILED TO DO IS TO LET YOU ALL KNOW WHAT KIND OF MAN HE REALLY IS....DRUG USER AND AN ALCOHOLIC. I BET MISS GONZALES DIDN'T MENTION THAT WHEN SHE WAS POSTING HER WRITE UP ABOUT SABA, AND I GUESS SHE THOUGHT THAT WE WERE TOO DUMB TO ANSWER BACK. WELL I HOPE MISS GONZALES THAT YOU ARE READY FOR THE SABA PEOPLE.YOU CAN BRING IN THE FBI,CIA, SVU AND ANY PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR YOU WANT BUT THEY WILL ALL COME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION...NO FOUL PLAY!!!. HOW DARE YOU EVEN THINK THAT. SOME OF YOU CAN TRY AND DEGRADE SABA ALL YOU WANT BUT WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS TAKE A LOOK AROUND YOU AND LOOK AT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY IS DOING TO YOUR OWN PEOPLE. EVERY NIGHT ON THE NEWS ALL YOU CAN SEE IS MURDER ,KIDNAPPING, RAPE,SHOOT OUTS,DRUS,DON'T LET ME GET STARTED ABOUT THE WAR AND I CAN GO ON ON....AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO TALK ABOUT SABA.I'M NOT GOING TO SIT HERE AND SAY THAT ALL AMERICANS ARE ALIKE BECAUSE YOUR NOT.I HAVE ALOT OF FAMILY & FRIENDS LIVING IN AMERICA AND I LOVE THEM DEARLY BUT I THINK SOME OF YOU NEED TO WAKE UP AND STOP BEING IGNORANT

heckmann514 said...

I would like to make some comments to Mr. Anonymous who posted a comment on Jan. 14, at 2:32 p.m. First of all, learn how to spell!!! Also, why should I and everyone else believe what you say? Were you involved in the search or something? Where is your credibility, bud?

Anonymous said...

gay rapist murderers on saba? you got to be joking, right??? that is really the biggest bull that I have heard in a long while... In my three years here I have never heard of any gaybashing-pornmaking-murderous-rapist and on an island of 1500, news would have gotten around.

Saba is a so-called gayfriendly island, where tourists are not beat up for any alternative lifestyle they might have, like in other places, but they are welcome like any other person that wants to experience this wonderful place... the fact people respect others personal choices, does not make them bad, i would say the opposite

And it is a wonderful place.. the nature (above and under water) is breathtaking, the people are friendly and are never too busy to tell tourists something about the history of the place... there is virtually no crime... you can walk home in the middle of the night without having to be scared of bad things happening... you can hitch a ride to the different villages on the island, just stand on the corner and people will stop for you and most of the time will go out of their way to take you where you need to go, etc etc etc..

Out of the approx. 1500 people who live here, about 400+ are American and Canadian Medical Students, and there are many americans that own vacation houses here.

The island receives award after award for being such a perfect vacation destination and the locals are very proud of their island and rightfully so!

It really is a shame that some people who obviously never visited Saba, try to use this disappearance to put saba and the sabans down...

The whole island was in total distress about the fact that one of its visitors had dissapeared and many helped during the search...the search for a man they didn't know with the risk of injuring themselves during the search...

The trails of Saba are well maintained, but of course never without risk, and all tourists are advised to not undertake hiking them alone and urged that they always let someone know which trail they are going to hike...just in case... Unfortunately, Mr.Gove failed to do so, and that made the search all the harder. He was seen going to the sulphur mine, but who knows which other trail he might have started after he left there (seeing that particular trail is rather short)

All I am hoping an praying for at this point in time, and I am sure ALL SABANS are with me, is that somehow Mr. Gove will be found, so that his family and friends will know what has become of him.

I am not worried that it was foul play... not for one second... but I do sympathise with the fact that after the media-hype around the dissapearance of Natalee Holloway from Aruba, it is the easy conclusion to jump to, but it is the WRONG one.

Alan Cheney said...

To Joel's Family and Friends,

Although we were out of the country over Christmas, my wife and I returned to Saba to find everyone in the community upset and concerned about Joel's disappearance. We learned that as soon as it was discovered that he was missing, the police, fire department, Saba Conservation volunteers and many, many people from our tiny community immediately went into action to find him. Aircraft, boats and a special dog came over from St Maarten as the hunt was intensified. None of this had to do with a concern for our tourism industry, but rather because Joel is a human being and a visitor and no one wanted him to be lost or hurt. Every once in awhile a solo hiker doesn't show up back in town when expected and many people drop what they are doing - rightly so - and conduct a search until the person is returned to safety. In only one instance, Joel's, has the search been unsuccessful and people here are crushed about that.

Now we read that some of Joel's family and friends in the States are letting their sadness and frustration take an ugly, negative turn. Not only is such negativity missplaced but it is terribly unfair to characterize anyone within our tiny community, including our police and government officials, as uncaring or incompetent. For one of Joel's lifelong friends to tell the American press that the Saban community must be informed "that we are not going away" is cynical and hurtful to a community that values Joel and any person who visits our lovely home. Of course tourism brings added income to some of our businesses but if all tourism stopped tomorrow, most people on the island would miss only the smiling faces and enthusiastic comings and goings of these visitors.

So please keep your energy positive. We all want to know what has happened to Joel.

Alan Cheney
St Johns, Saba

Alan Cheney said...

To Joel's Family and Friends,

Although we were out of the country over Christmas, my wife and I returned to Saba to find everyone in the community upset and concerned about Joel's disappearance. We learned that as soon as it was discovered that he was missing, the police, fire department, Saba Conservation volunteers and many, many people from our tiny community immediately went into action to find him. Aircraft, boats and a special dog came over from St Maarten as the hunt was intensified. None of this had to do with a concern for our tourism industry, but rather because Joel is a human being and a visitor and no one wanted him to be lost or hurt. Every once in awhile a solo hiker doesn't show up back in town when expected and many people drop what they are doing - rightly so - and conduct a search until the person is returned to safety. In only one instance, Joel's, has the search been unsuccessful and people here are crushed about that.

Now we read that some of Joel's family and friends in the States are letting their sadness and frustration take an ugly, negative turn. Not only is such negativity missplaced but it is terribly unfair to characterize anyone within our tiny community, including our police and government officials, as uncaring or incompetent. For one of Joel's lifelong friends to tell the American press that the Saban community must be informed "that we are not going away" is cynical and hurtful to a community that values Joel and any person who visits our lovely home. Of course tourism brings added income to some of our businesses but if all tourism stopped tomorrow, most people on the island would miss only the smiling faces and enthusiastic comings and goings of these visitors.

So please keep your energy positive. We all want to know what has happened to Joel.

Alan Cheney
St Johns, Saba

M. Johnson said...

The Facts
1. Let's not talk about the war in Iraq here, because this has nothing to do with the disappearance of Mr. Gove on Saba.
2. There are no gay criminals, rapists or murderers on Saba. And may I ask, why would any of the locals want to murder Mr. Gove anyway???
3. Crimes rarely occur in Saba, but when they do they get solved. Furthermore, tourists are not affected by crimes in Saba.
4. The Saban authorities and many locals have been searching vigorously for Mr. Gove.
5. As said before, there have been hikers, helicopters, boats, and a dog team searching for Mr. Gove. So, to say that they have not been searching hard enough, is hurtful and ignorant.
6. Posters, about Mr. Gove, were put up all over the island more then two weeks ago. So to say otherwise is untrue.
7. The disappearance of Mr.Gove may hurt the island's tourism, but the locals do not care about that. They care about finding Mr. Gove.
8. Outside help is welcome in finding Mr. Gove, including YOU if you'd like to come search for him. I have been told that the FBI are currently on island investigating the case.
9. Please, do not make ignorant and untrue comments about Saba. Lies and ignorance will not help in the search for Mr. Gove.
10. I would like to request everyone who reads this to please say a prayer for Mr. Gove.

Thank you.

Denise said...

To all residents of Saba:
I am SO SORRY that ignorant Americans have posted these most ridiculous hurtful comments about your beautiful country.

I recently visited your country and never have I felt more safe, and I live in a rural area of Florida.

We did not worry about locking our door and windows, storing our gear outside, or even hitchhicking.

Thanks to all the volunteers and government officials who worked so hard to find Mr Gove. And please forgive the ignorant Americans who make comments about something they know absolutely nothing about!!

Anonymous said...

To My Dear Saba...

I want to apologize for the ignorance of some of my fellow Americans that have posted on this web site. This is a first for me...I have never posted on any blog before or even chatted in a chat room. But these awful accusations and comments made by individuals on this site upset me deeply. If they only knew the Saba that my family and I did...A peaceful, quiet, "Unspoiled Queen" in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. I am saddened that Saba has had to experience these events in the past month, and my heart is with the hiker's family, of course. I have spoken with some of you on the island and know how concerned and heartsick you are that this man has more than likely met a tragic end. Saba is a good, honest, safe and fair Dutch island. Know that there are "former Sabans" in the States that hold the island and its people close in our hearts. Wishing to be with you soon.

Anonymous said...

"LOST IN PARADISE? IGNORE IT...IT'S BAD FOR TOUSISM"
What's bad for tourism is others making misleading, malicious remarks about somewhere they obviously never visited and definitely know nothing about!!!

The allegations made were unpleasant, absurd and of abysmal ignorance!! I couldn't help but to be livid when I read some of the comments posted. These presumptions are opaque and lack the credibility to even be taken into consideration!!

"Good at disposing bodies? Drug trafficking? Human trafficking? Conspiracy of stolen war material? Murderers? Predators? Ferocious gay rapist? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Now, you won't have to look for a good example of these crimes. Prime example is the United States. Statistics show every year an astonishing rising percentage rate of these crimes happening on a day to day basis. So if your backyard hasn't been cleaned, DO SO NOW!!!

Like previous ones who commented, I am one who lived on that unique and beautiful island. Prior to moving to my current location; Pennsylvania, I lived there for approx. 22 years. I've witnessed thousands of tourists come and go without anything happening to them. They just had lots of fun and a great experience. There has been no conclusive evidence obtained in this case so therefore I urge folks not to be narrow minded and come to false conclusions!!

There are many possibilities as to what could’ve happened to Mr. Gove. Many search efforts took place by a group of zealous and conscientious workers and volunteers. (Locals were of the volunteers also) It's just too sad that they haven't gotten the appreciation from some who commented for their valiant efforts to find the missing man.

Until this case is resolved I'd like to call it an intricate enigma. Thanks go out to the people who participated in the search so far. Never the less, I encourage all tourists not be persuaded and influenced by these harsh allegations. Our prayers are with the Gove family. God bless you all.

Thank you
S.J.