Aug 06, 2017 News
It will soon be a year since Ophelia James lost her two young children in a boat accident in the Waini River, Region One, which has also left her partially paralyzed, and the inquest ordered into their deaths is yet to begin.
Seven-year-old Lisa Da Silva and her six-year-old brother, Davenand, were senselessly killed by a reckless boat operator on August 25, last.
James and her husband Basil Da Silva have been patiently waiting on the inquest to begin so that they can get some form of justice. Since the children’s demise, the parents have been fighting for answers almost daily.
When police ranks probing the accident had released the suspect in the crash—shortly after the children’s bodies were fished out of the river, an inquest was ordered.
“It has been months now and we are not hearing anything. All we know is that an inquest was ordered but nothing else. No one is saying when this inquest will begin,” the father of the two deceased children pointed out.
The accident not only killed his children and left his wife paralyzed but according to the fisherman, it broke up his family. As a result of the crash, James lives in Port Kaituma with her daughter, because it is too painful for her to move back to Mabaruma.
Her husband remains in Mabaruma where he works as a fisherman and would usually visit her whenever he makes a little extra cash.
“I want justice. My children died and I never hear back anything about the story until recently when someone called and tell me about the inquest,” James said in tears.
Both Basil and his wife have admitted that their new lives have been very hard for them to cope with, but they have no choice.
The two children were travelling home from a fishing trip in a wooden boat with their parents along with their 16-year-old brother, Dwayne, when another vessel slammed into them from behind and continued on its way.
It was at this exact moment that little Lisa and Davenand lost their lives while their mother suffered a broken left shoulder.
While the survivors did not see the persons in the boat, they recognized the vessel by its name.
Immediately following the accident, residents in the area reported that they saw the owner of the vessel, painting it over.
Kaieteur News understands that the police had arrested the boat owner, but he was subsequently released because of a lack of evidence.
Recalling what transpired on August 25, last, the woman said that it was around 20:30hrs and they were returning home from a fishing trip further up the river. It was pitch black, and Dwayne and his mother held a torch light at the front of the vessel, while Basil Da Silva was at the back of the boat holding another torch and steering.
The family was chatting and laughing and even reflecting on their outing, when suddenly, something struck 51-year-old Da Silva off the boat.
“I didn’t see anything, so I thought it was a branch hit me off the boat. I fall into the water and when I float up back, I was a good way from the boat. I managed to swim to land and I shouted for my wife and tell her to keep the children safe,” Da Silva said.
He sustained a gash to the head and lost consciousness. When he regained his senses, his wife shouted from a distance and told him another boat had struck theirs.
The fisherman was clutching to a branch and was unable to see his family in the darkness, so he could not go to their assistance.
Meanwhile, in the boat, the children’s mother remembered telling them to stop crying and reassuring them that they would be safe.
“When my husband fell off the boat, my son shined the light and we see the name of the boat and we see when the three people in it duck,” Ophelia recalled.
She also said that the rope on their boat became entangled in the engine of the suspects’ vessel, but the occupants slashed the rope and drove away.
“If only they had stopped and helped, my children could have been saved. They would have been alive,” the mother said before bursting into tears.
She recalled that the suspects’ vessel struck her on her left shoulder, rendering her completely helpless.
“My son was bailing out the water and he said that it taking in too much and the boat going down too fast.”
Eventually, the boat leaned to one side, and she fell into the river.
Despite her injury, the 47-year-old woman managed to turn on one side and held onto a can until she managed to grab a branch.
“While I hold onto a branch, I holler for my son and tell he save the children and he say, ‘mommy, they gone down.’ I didn’t know what to do or say. My son come and then his father swim and come to us.”
According to the devastated woman, it took more than two hours before help arrived. The rescuers took them to the Mabaruma Hospital after which she was transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
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