Families in mourning
They shared strong bonds, partied together, all loved life and as fate would have it, they died together.
Barbadians woke up to the shocking news this morning that a birthday celebration ended tragically for four young women from St Philip who lost their lives on their way home from a night out.
Shameka Shepherd, 23, Shakira Shepherd 22, Waveney Johnson, 25 and Carey Brathwaite, 18, died this morning when the silver grey Suzuki motor car they were travelling in crashed into a guard wall on Two Mile Hill, St Michael.
Nakisha Shepherd, 23, who was transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance is fighting for her life.
Barbados TODAY understands that the girls were making their way home following an evening of fun to celebrate Shameka’s birthday, which was on Saturday.
The gut wrenching cries of the mothers and family members who gathered at the scene could be heard in the distance as they got a glimpse of the lifeless bodies, the mashed car and streaks of blood on the road. Some of them called out their loved ones’ names, one mother even asked her daughter to wake up.
A sombre mood hung over communities in St Philip, especially those where the girls were from.
It was a double blow for a Long Bay family who lost two relatives in the accident. Shameka, a nursing student and Shakira, an employee at the Grantley Adams Airport, were cousins who lived in the same house with their mothers, two sisters.
Nakisha, who graduated from the University of the West Indies last week, lived just a stone’s throw away with her mother, their aunt in the close-knit community.
The deceased girls’ mothers were too distraught to explain their emotions.
They were locked away in the house as they grieved together for their daughters.
Other family members were gathered outside, some of them still teary eyed.
However, opting to give a comment on the family’s behalf was aunt Roslin Bradshaw who said she spoke to her nieces yesterday.
She said a prayer group had visited the home and prayed for the mothers who had also been counselled.
“They [the girls’ mothers] are taking it very hard. I was in the shower when I got the call getting myself prepared for church. I don’t know if I dried my skin or what, I don’t know what I did,” the eldest of the sisters said in a composed tone.
Their cousin Sherry-Ann Bradshaw said they all attended Deighton Griffith Secondary and have remained close from childhood.
She said her cousins were fun loving, always smiling and got along well, causing most people to think they were sisters.
“They live in the same household and most people would think they are sisters rather than cousins. They were always together. It is s a pretty close-knit family. There are a whole lot of sisters and they are all very close,” Sherry-Ann said.
Preparing to make her way back to the hospital to stand by her daughter’s side was Nakisha’s mother who also was too distraught to speak.
The Shepherd family lost a family member last October in a road accident overseas.
Meanwhile, there was much comforting going on at Minister of Transport Michael Lashley’s mother house.
Waveney’s mother Carmalie Johnson is a close friend of Lashley’s family and they were together just last night at an event.
Resting on a friend’s chest, a grieving Johnson was too weak to speak about the death of her only daughter, a former student of the Seventh Day Adventist school and employee of Do It Best, Sheraton Mall.
Friend Lana Butcher, who spoke on Johnson’s behalf, said the mother had an admirable relationship with her respectful daughter who was working towards resuming studies at UWI from next September.
“As you can see, her mother is not taking it well. This is not easy for any of us. But we are here for her and will stay by her side. Waveney was a nice girl, she loved life and having fun,” Butcher said.
Lashley, who also expressed sadness and shock at the scene, said he was familiar with the girls who had previously participated in the St Philip Carnival.
As a mark of respect, Lashley who expressed condolences to the families, has cancelled his annual karaoke event, which was scheduled for later today.
“It is a very horrific accident and it touched me from the point of view that one of the parents is extremely close to my family.
“She is my sister’s best friend and she is always there for my family. She is a very caring and responsible parent,” Lashley noted.
The Minister also warned Barbadians to desist from taking pictures at accident scenes and sending them out on social media.
One resident of Two Mile Hill who was awakened by the loud hit and crashing sounds that followed said she believed she was watching a movie during the hours following the accident.
“I would never forget looking down and seeing heads bobbing in the back of car,” she said.
The resident told Barbados TODAY that after hearing a crashing noise she rushed to her window and through the darkness she could see that one of the girls was laying on the ground. She said at that point she had not known that more people were in the vehicle.
She said she rushed to turn on her outside lights so that any vehicles coming down would see the body there and then turned her attention to calling for emergency response teams.
“When I came out some people were there and they asked me to bring two sheets. Then when I looked, I saw that there were more people in the vehicle, so apparently that young lady was ejected from the vehicle.
“People just started gathering. Family members were crying, one woman was so loud that she could have woken up the whole of Barbados,” she said.
The resident, who expressed concern that too many accidents had happened in that area, called on authorities to put up a sign for traffic approaching the area, warning motorists to be cautious.