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Man drowns at Civic Center beach

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A 50-year-old man who was fishing at the Civic Center beach in Susupe has drowned last Feb. 26, making this the second drowning fatality in 2021.

The victim was identified as Bobby Galanza Gabao, according to a text message from Department of Public Safety spokesman Dre Pangelinan.

In a brief interview with Pangelinan, he said that a call came in from a friend of Gabao’s, who said that Gabao was supposed to be back on shore at that time (around 8pm) but when his friend couldn’t find him, that’s when they called for police assistance.

A separate DPS statement sent to media said that the Zodiac I rescue boat was dispatched from the Smiling Cove Marina at around 8:45pm and headed south toward the Civic Center area. At about 9pm, units on land spotted a white fishing cooler that was drifting south, just outside the Saipan World Resort in Susupe, which was then relayed to the crew of the Zodiac boat who went to the location.

Once units arrived at the location, they noticed that the fishing cooler was still strapped to an unresponsive individual submerged underwater. At that time DPS did not identify who the individual was.

Pangelinan said that officers secured the individual on the Zodiac and tried to resuscitate him as they drove toward shore. Once they arrived on shore, medics transported the individual to the Commonwealth Health Center where Dr. Rodney Klassen pronounced the victim dead at 9:55pm due to drowning.

Pangelinan said that Gabao’s family has already been informed, but it was not immediately learned why it took DPS five days to release a statement about the accident.

According to Gabao’s immediate family members on Facebook, Gabao was supposed to go back to the Philippines in 10 months to be reunited with his family after two decades of being away.

Gabao’s son wrote on his Facebook page that he was only 10 years old when Gabao left to work abroad, and he did not see Gabao for 18 years.

It was also learned that Gabao had already fixed up his house in the Philippines for when he would retire and be with his family.

The first drowning in 2021 was another man who drowned at Lao Lao Bay in Dandan last Feb. 13.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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