TRINIDAD – Painful end to party
Seven injured after tree falls during outing
PORT OF SPAIN –– An eight-year-old boy was in critical condition at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Mount Hope, last night, after a huge tree fell on him and six other family members during an outing at Caura River, El Dorado, Tunapuna, on Saturday. Family members were praying for the safe recovery of Dimitri Rampersad.
The other injured were identified as Kenny Rupert, 48, his wife Gloria, 42, of Tacarigua; Alberta Pureed, 30, and Dimitri, of Five Rivers, Arouca; Dave Bhola, 32, and his wife Ornella Pollard, 25, of Crown Street, Tacarigua; and Mary Bhaggan, 42, of Spring Village, Valsayn. Rampersad, who received severe face trauma and a broken leg, and Bhaggan, who received spinal injuries, are both currently warded in the Intensive Care Unit of the EWMSC.
Rampersad is a Standard 4 pupil of the El Dorado South Hindu Primary School. Speaking in an interview yesterday, Pollard, who received back injuries, said she and her husband Bhola were discharged from hospital on Saturday night. Bhola, she said, sustained several broken bones, including in one of his legs and ribs. She said the incident occurred some time between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.
“It just happened so quickly. While liming there we just heard a snap and in a split second the tree fell down on us. We didn’t have any warning,” Pollard said. “Mary was pinned under the tree and I remember seeing her there and with all my effort and strength, I managed to pull her out. It was so horrible, devastating and traumatic!”
Pollard said the family was there to celebrate Kenny and another of her aunts, Wendy Hernandez’ birthdays.
“We just decided on having this lime for the birthdays and also for several of our family members who are currently here in T&T from foreign on vacation, so we probably would have gone to the river about 11 a.m. and we had already started cooking when all hell broke loose,” Pollard said.
Eyewitness Shivan Chan said in an interview that he along with his 22-year-old cousin had escaped injury and/or possible death as initially that said spot was chosen by them
for their lime.
“We had earlier gone right there in that same spot where the tree fell and had already set up to cook when we decided to go higher up,” Chan recalled.
“When we went higher up we saw that it had too many people, so we decided to come back down to that same spot when we heard a ‘snap’. We looked up and saw a branch falling and in a split second the entire tree split in two and came crashing down. That noise was so loud and thunderous that it sent off all the car alarms in the area.”
Chan, who is a fire officer, said initially he froze in shock when it occurred, but he then quickly acted in assisting the victims.
“I was real shocked and then with my training with being able to deal with emergencies kicked in and I started helping the victims. I remember the boy being pulled out from under the tree and I remember one of the women being unresponsive,” he added.
Subsequent to the incident, Pollard said she was told that several trees, including the one that fell on them, were earmarked to be cut down by the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation.
“If this is true these trees were not marked and there were no warning signs. Not even were there any caution tapes placed around the area.
“So we were not aware of any pending danger. We were there liming on the concrete part where they have the concrete tables and benches,” Pollard said. She added that Caura River is labelled as one of Trinidad’s major tourist attractions and therefore she would have expected the relevant authorities to do everything to protect visitors to the area.
The victims who have been discharged are expected to go to the Tunapuna Police Station to lodge their official reports. They will also be seeking to contact officials of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation.