November 08, 2007


TRENTON — A mummified body found in the Caribbean diving destination of Saba belonged to an intrepid New Jersey environmental consultant, his ex-wife said. Amy Gonzales flew to Saba to try to see if the body found last week in an abandoned sulfur mine was Joel D. Gove's. It was, Gonzales told The Trentonian.

Gove, a 47-year-old world traveler who delighted in showing friends photos of the exotic places he visited, set out for Saba on Christmas last year. The mountainous 5-square-mile island southwest of Saint Maarten is part of the Netherlands Antilles and is popular with divers. It has only about 1,500 residents and receives about 25,000 tourists a year.

On Dec. 27, Gove set out for a hike near the abandoned mine. He was never seen alive again. By mid-January, authorities in the island had halted their search for him after failing to find the Trenton man.

Gonzales said last week three hikers got lost in the same mine where Gove was last seen. Their flashlights were dying, and they were breathing in sulfur fumes, she said. The only light they had came only from a little key chain flashlight. The men stumbled through the darkness for a half-hour and stumbled across Gove's body.

"They're just lucky they didn't meet the same fate that Joel did,'' Gonzales said. "They had to get out.'' They told authorities of finding Gove's body, and it was recovered. Gonzales, who remained friends with her ex-husband after their divorce, and one of his co-workers, flew to the island last weekend after it was reported that Gove's body may have been found.

"It was pretty much as they said; it was pretty much mummified,'' she said. "You could recognize his clothes. And his hair was still there.''

What kind of conditions can a dead body be in
for it to become mummified instead of completely decomposed???



Richard said...

So the body of Joel Gove, an American missing for nearly a year on the island of Saba, has been found. From what I remember, previous reports said that he had been seen on a hiking trail that overlooked the ocean, and that in some areas was slippery. It was thought that he might have fallen into the ocean.

I will be curious to see if we learn anything about whether this cave was on that route. In essence, is it likely that this experienced hiker and outdoorsman met up with an unfortunate accident, or is some kind of foul play likely?

Is the local government even interested? Unlikely, in my view ... after all, I remember that after some initial 'easy' steps, the locals and the Dutch declined to mount a full-scale search. If my memory is correct, they wouldn't even allow the family to post notices that this American was, indeed, missing on their island. Might disturb tourism, I guess ....

Does anyone see parallels with the token effort on Aruba, where, with much back-patting, the government said that government workers were given the afternoon off to look for Natalee Holloway? From what I remember, only a few hundred of them participated (that was what The Associated Press reported, if I remember rightly, although Aruba itself said that "thousands of concerned islanders took part"). And that search was for part of one afternoon, and was in a part of the island where Natalee had not been seen.

And let's remember Amy Bradley, who went missing from a cruise ship in 1998 as it was docking in Curacao ... one day after the ship stopped in Aruba, and members of the crew wanted to take her to Carlos 'n' Charlies in Aruba. Yes, THAT one.

Aruba, Curacao, Saba ... what is it about the Netherlands Antilles? You go missing there, and nothing is done? Oh, right, I forgot ... it's Natalee's fault, and I guess the fault of everyone there. Bring them tourist dollars, and you're welcome; but if you go missing or become a crime victim, you get the back of the hand, or of the heel....

Remember that Beth Holloway's initial call was to boycott ALL the Netherlands Antilles islands until Natalee's fate was known.

I support this thorougly. It seems that tourist dollars are welcome there, but the tourists themselves are expendable.

It's unfortunate that the sorry bunch of clowns who are competing in the presidential primaries can't be bothered to demand action on behalf of our own citizens.

Boycott the Netherlands Antilles. As if your life depended on it. Stand up for justice.

Ms. J said...

For your information Richard, yes the old sulfur mine is near the trail where it was thought that Mr. Gove may have fallen off. Many of the trails in Saba are inter-connected and even though the island is small it is possible to get lost. The old sulfur mine can be dangerous to be in, because it has many tunnels in it and not all are well known of. It was very unfortunate that Mr. Gove got lost in this same mine. And so did three other hikers but thankfully they were able to find their way out. They also spoke of the darkness, heat and sulfur fumes in the mine, which of course become worse the deeper in you go.
The mine was searched by local authorities when Mr. Gove went missing, and they searched the tunnels that they had knowledge of.
It is not true that Mr. Gove's family were not allowed to put up posters of him, because they did put up posters. The FBI, who are supposed to be better equipped to find missing persons, also searched for Mr. Gove along with their dogs and did not find him. I would think it would be difficult for the dogs to find someone in a mine if they have not had any previous training in a mine, so perhaps this may have been a factor.
Mr. Gove's death was and still is very sad and unfortunate, but thankfully he has finally been found and perhaps this will provide his family with some sort of closure.
It is highly unlikely that any foul play was involved. Perhaps Mr. Gove got lost in the mine, and got tired in his search for a way out. Maybe he sat down for a rest and was overpowered by the heat and fumes of sulfur. Right now all we can do is speculate, nothing can be known for certain until an autopsy is done.
My respects and prayers go to his family, as I am sure other Sabans would say as well. I can also say that I know the people of Saba are happy that Mr. Gove has been found, we wish that he could have been found alive and well last year December. However, he has finally been found and I'm sure that will provide his family with some peace of mind.