T&T: Two children among four drowning victims

Trinidad Express:-An unspeakable tragedy.

That was how relatives described the drowning deaths of four people, including two children, at beaches along the east coast yesterday.
The drownings occurred in two separate incidents at Mayaro and Manzanilla.

The bodies of pensioner Morris Sammy and his nine-year-old granddaughter, Anastazia Ali, resurfaced minutes after they disappeared beneath the waters near Coconut Drive, Mayaro.

But up to last evening, Coast Guard officers were still searching for security guard Deoraj Harridass, 50, and his 13-year-old stepdaughter, Renisha Basdeo.

Relatives said Anastazia’s parents, Andy and Stacy Ali, took her to the Mayaro Health Centre, where she was pronounced dead. Her grandfather died at the scene after relatives failed to resuscitate him.

The incident occurred around 10.30 a.m.

The family, of Circular Drive, Gopaul Lands, Marabella, was spending time at a beach house.

Anastazia was a Standard Three pupil of the St Gabriel’s RC Primary School in San Fernando.

Her uncle and Sammy’s son, Robert Sammy, said: “They all came down on Thursday. I was supposed to come and meet them today. There were about 25 people at the house.
“I understand Ana and two other girls were playing in the water less than waist height. They got into difficulties and my father went in to save them.

“He held on to Ana and another girl. His hand slipped from the other girl and she managed to get out of the water. My father was still holding on to Ana, when they both went under. They were sucked in by an undercurrent.”

Sammy said the child washed ashore about two minutes later, but she was unconscious.

“There was a nurse with the group and she began CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). They got a pulse and called the ambulance, but none came.

“They took her to the hospital and that was where she died. My father came up a few minutes later and they performed CPR on him as well. But he did not survive,” he said.

Sammy described his niece as a bright child, who loved to sing and dance. He said she was excited to spend time with her cousins at the beach.

Sammy said his father worked hard and had now settled down to enjoy his retirement with his children and grandchildren.
He said his father was a good swimmer who would not sit by and watch his grandchildren in trouble.

The bodies of the girl and her grandfather were placed in a hearse and opened for the family to view at the Mayaro Police Station.
Anastazia’s parents stood watch over their daughter’s body and cried silently. The family held hands and prayed for their loved ones. And before the hearse drove off, the parents took turns kissing her forehead.

The couple also have a five-year-old son.

Teen, stepfather drown

And not far away, at the Mitan River mouth, Manzanilla, another family was grieving the loss of two members.

Harridass and stepdaughter Renisha disappeared beneath the rough water around 8 a.m.

Police said the family, of Robert Village, Tableland, was camping near the river.

Renisha, a pupil of Tableland Secondary School, went to wash her hands in the water, when she got into difficulties.

Police said her stepfather went in to assist, and they were both pulled in by an undercurrent.

Relatives began searching the waters for the two, but could not find them.

The Coast Guard was called in to search. But up to nightfall the pair had not been found.
Relatives gathered under a tent and prayed for the bodies to resurface.
Mayaro police responded to both reports.

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