Pompeo: American Diplomatic Staffer Dies Following Boating Accident in Colombia

January 20, 2020 Updated: January 20, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday confirmed an American staffer from the U.S. Mission in Colombia died after a boating accident.

“To my entire State Department team, Susan and I are with you in your grief,” Pompeo told reporters in Bogota, the country’s capital. “You have my word the Department will do everything in our power to comfort and support those who have suffered from this devastating loss.”

The top U.S. diplomat said the accident occurred Saturday and said other American personnel were involved. They suffered “modest injuries,” he said, adding that one was airlifted back to the United States for medical care.

The worker who died was not identified by Pompeo, who added that his next of kin was notified.

“We appreciate the Colombian Government’s continued search-and-rescue operation in search of the missing American employee,” the Department of State told CNN. “Other government personnel, some assigned to Colombia and others visiting, were rescued from the capsized boat, some sustaining moderate injuries,” the spokesperson said. “We express our gratitude to the private citizens and Colombian military for rescuing the employees.”

Colombian President Ivan Duque said the Navy, Coast Guard, and other agencies are involved in the search effort.

Pompeo also said he is looking forward to meeting with Venezuelan interim president Guan Guaido and repeated his call for the removal of dictator Nicolas Maduro.

“The world must continue to support the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy and put an end to Maduro’s tyranny, which harms millions of Venezuelans, and has an impact on Colombia, and indeed, the entire region,” Pompeo said in Bogota.

Guaido wrote on social media that he traveled to Colombia and met with President Duque.