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A family’s pain


A Barbadian family of St George has been thrown into shock and dismay, with relatives struggling to come to grips with the untimely death of a two-year-old member in a house fire in Westchester County in the United States.

A grieving Melanese Alleyne of Sweet Vale told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that her grandson Tazari Mahon perished in the fire while on holiday with his mother Taneisha Alleyne-Mahon.

“She is blaming herself for Zari’s death. She said, ‘Mum, I tried to get to Zari, but there was too much smoke’. I told her, ‘No,no, don’t blame yourself’,” a distraught Alleyne related.

Alleyne said her daughter, who was scheduled to return home on November 1, and had only spent a week up to yesterday, had gone to visit a brother and a friend, and was at her friend’s when the fire broke out last Saturday.

“My daughter is now in Westchester Medical Centre. She got burns to her face, legs, back and hands. She also lost everything: her passport, clothes and cash. She has nothing; so I hope she can get some sort of help from the Barbados Consulate in New York, so she can come back home and bury my grandson, my first grandson,” lamented Alleyne.

“He [Tazari] was so happy at the airport. He kissed me before leaving, and I told him, ‘Don’t give your mother any trouble’,” she recalled with a crack in her voice. “But,” added the grandmother, a worker at the Queen Elizabeth Hosptial, ”it is hard. He is my first grandson.

“And my daughter has another child here –– Taliyah, who will be a year old next month. I myself have a 15-year-old daughter here, too. It is just me right now.” Alleyne said the little boy’s father John Mahon left today to be with his wife –– to give comfort and support. It is understood Tzari’s father, who is a bus driver with the Barbados Transport Board, had undergone counselling before leaving for the United States. “Even though it is hard on me now, I am getting moral support from my colleagues at the QEH and friends who are calling and expressing sympathy. But I will return to work tomorrow, ‘cause it doesn’t make sense staying home,” suggested the grieving granny. She recalled nervously that her daughter was now suffering a similar fate as she hasd some years ago.

“My daughter is going through the same thing I went through. I lost my first child when he was four years old. He was knocked down right in my sight . . . in front this house in Sweet Bottom. He would have been 28 years old,” bemoaned Alleyne. She said her daughter still had to wait until the doctor at the medical centre gave her a clean bill of health, so she could return to Barbados.

In a brief telephone interview with Barbados TODAY, Counsel-General at New York Lennox Price said his mission was aware of the tragedy and had reached out to the family.

“We will do whatever is necessary to assist the [them],” Price assured this newspaper.

Earlier media reports from The Journal News in Greenburgh, United States, said frantic family members, who fled the burning Elmsford house late Saturday, tried to re-enter to search for the missing toddler visiting from Barbados –– but were pushed back by the conflagaration. The reports said firefighters, who were told the two-year-old boy was on the second floor at 107 Sears Avenue, also desperately tried to find the boy until the roof caved in on them.

The child remained unaccounted for until his body was found hours later in the attic. The journal said the boy’s mother was hospitalized at Westchester Medical Centre with second degree burns, and three other adults had suffered smoke inhalation. Officials and a family friend explained that the house was home to a single family, but friends and extended family members, including the boy, his mother and another person visiting from Barbados, were in the home at the time of the blaze.

An autopsy is to carried out on the child’s body to determine the cause of death. 

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