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Ontario woman seeks justice after brother dies on fishing excursion in Dominican Republic

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An Angus, Ont. woman whose brother died in the Dominican Republic earlier this year wants to see justice done in criminal court.

Pamela Venne lost her brother James 'Tikey' Dewitt in early February when the deep-sea fishing boat he chartered with his friends and cousin capsized.

Dewitt was the only passenger who didn't survive.

"We are looking to get justice for those that took him out on the water," said Venne from Punta Cana International Airport.

Venne said she wanted to be on the ground in Punta Cana, where the men accused in connection with Dewitt's death are before the courts.

The chartered boat's captain, she said, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. He and a crew member on the boat that day were scheduled to appear in court and return again next month.A deep-sea fishing boat capsizes in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (Source: DominicanToday.com)

Venne and her lawyer in the Dominican Republic hope justice will be served in criminal court while they push for change to prevent another tragedy from happening.

She said she is advocating for better safeguards and regulations and hopes the Canadian Embassy pressures the Dominican government to better protect those, like her brother, vacationing in Punta Cana.

"Here in Punta Cana, they do not have regulations or boat registrations. It is not mandatory. That is one thing that I'd like to see changed so that this will not happen to another family," said Venne.

Local media in Punta Cana reported all boaters in the area were warned to stay off the waters due to dangerous conditions. Dewitt's family, however, said the chartered boat company decided to go anyway without providing any warning to Dewitt and the others.

His body was returned home weeks later.

James' Tikey' Dewitt was 40 years old and a well-known businessman in Waubaushene. He was the co-owner of Dewennes Restaurant with his sister and her husband and Dewitt Contracting. He left behind his wife and four children.

James 'Tikey' Dewitt, of Waubaushene, Ont., is pictured in this undated photo. (Source: Facebook)

"He was a great guy. I got along great with him because I worked down there. He ran the restaurant. Couldn't ask for a better guy," said Gord Poole in Waubaushene on Tuesday afternoon.

Pool worked for Dewitt and said he was saddened by what happened to his friend.

Dewitt's sister vows to keep fighting to honour her brother's memory and ensure his death is not in vain.

"If the boat had been registered, and if it was mandatory for boats to submit charter plans, that may have saved his life that day," she said.

The allegations against the accused men have not been tested in court.

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