Fatal Accident Uncovers Cruise Operators Secret Past
Sounds like the basis for a television series? Perhaps, but not in the case of the 78-year-old Dennis 'Lee' Lafferty, who died in a car accident recently in May. He operated Daintree River Cruise Centre, a popular river cruise business in Queensland, Australia for 28 years, organising river cruise and wildlife-sighting trips.
However, it seems that Lafferty was not who he had claimed to be.
According to US newspaper Tampa Bay Times, Lafferty was actually a Florida-based drug dealer name Raymond Grady Stansel Jr., who alleged disappeared while scuba diving in Honduras on New Year's Eve in 1974. His lawyer only announced his disappearance on 5 January 1975, the very day Stansel was supposed to appear in court to face a number of drug smuggling charges.
Attempts to locate Stansel - or his body - proved unsuccessful. He was subsequently presumed to have perished, even though his body was never found, and sightings of him were reported from time to time.
As the truth about Lafferty's past surfaced, it turned out that he married Janet Wood, a woman he had met in Key West in 1973. They fell in love, and after the alleged diving accident, they travelled to a few countries before settling down and starting the river cruise business in Australia.
But, whoever Lafferty had been in the earlier phase of his life as a drug dealer, he appeared to have turned over a new leaf and made good on his second chance at a new life. The Cairns (Australia) Post reported on the outpouring of grief since his death, as well as the Daintree community that had been left heartbroken as a result.
The police officer who investigated the accident called his death "devastating for the community". In addition, Douglas Shire (county) Mayor Julia Leu described him as "a lovely man and a gentleman".
Informational link, example: www.tampabay.com/news/.../2234369