Blacktip Island officials fear an island resident may be lost in the Caribbean island’s rugged interior after fleeing a barroom confrontation Wednesday night. (photo by Wade Soote)
Blacktip Island residents Wednesday launched an island-wide search for a fellow resident who ran into hiding after being accused of being a witch the night before, authorities said.
“Folks were all liquored up down at the Ballyhoo, and Cori Anders started doing slight-of-hand magic tricks,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “A drunk-ass Dermott Bottoms thought the tricks were real, started hollering about Cori being a witch. Then Gage Hoase and Lee Helm pestered her to heal their upcoming hangovers.
“Others joined in, and next thing you know folks were yelling about tying her up or dunking her or burning her or some such,” Marquette said. “Cori laughed it all off until James Conlee tried to grab her. That’s when she bolted out the door, sped off and no one’s seen her since.”
Some residents expressed concern for Anders’ safety.
“No one’s seen her, or her ride, for a day and a half,” Alison Diesel said. “She could be hurt, or worse, somewhere inland where nobody ever goes. I get hauling ass out of there, but to stay hid for so long? She’s not just sleeping one off.”
Community leaders quickly launched a search for Anders.
“We have the island gridded out in squares, and teams of three and four are searching them methodically for any sign of Cori or her car,” Wade Soote said. “If she’s hurt somewhere, time’s of the essence. I know people’re getting punchy with the lockdown and isolation, but this isn’t like Cori.”
Others were focused on the accusations against Anders.
“Still looking to see if she really is a witch,” Dermott Bottoms said. “Always wears that pointy hat, and she’s got a long nose, y’know. She might be the one who brought this virus curse down on us. If she did, then we gotta make sure she pays. Or at least makes it go away.
“Me and James and some others, we’re beating the bush to find her, put her to the test, for the good of the island,” Bottoms said. “Gonna drop her over the side of one of the boats to see if she floats. Or sinks. I can’t remember which one it is witches do.”
Island authorities urged caution in the search efforts.
“Folks stomping off into the interior alone are gonna get hurt or lost,” Marquette said. “If people aren’t careful, we’re gonna have multiple search-and-rescue operations going on. Folks need to let me do the searching instead of running around like a bunch of fools.
“Just this morning I caught Dermott and his bunch heading into the bush with landing nets and lionfish spears,” Marquette said. “Other people were using beaters to try to drive her toward waiting rescuers. If this keeps up, Cori may never come back. And I wouldn’t blame her.”