Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Two-year-old dies at unregistered tourist attraction

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 3:00 AMRyon Jones
Little Can Ilber Sarioglu who died in a freak accident in the Blue Mountains, on Saturday, February 27.
Ghost like pines trees shrouded by thick mists on a slope near Whitfield Hall in the Blue Mountains where a child died in an accident.
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Turkish national Tahir Sarioglu, who has been living in Jamaica for close to a year, lost his son, Can Ilber, in a freak accident on the Whitfield Hall property at the foot of the Blue Mountains on Saturday, February 27, after he and a number of other expatriates went on a camping trip to the area.

The group retired to bed around 10 p.m. with some persons settling in the hostel, but Sarioglu and his wife and their only child opted to stay in their tent.

"It was not windy, but it was raining. So we were hearing the raindrops and there was nothing suspicious," said Sarioglu.

"We heard the sound like something was coming and it was just a few seconds, and when I tried to stand up one of the branches hit me on my back."

Sarioglu said this happened around midnight and it was dark in the tent, so he and his wife of seven years enquired of each other if they were OK.

It was revealed that his wife had sustained some minor cuts to her feet, but it was the silence of their son which consumed their attention.

"My wife checked in the darkness with her hands and there was nothing on top of our son, but we realised he was not talking. I tried to open the tent, but there were a lot of tree branches around, so we were blocked inside," Sarioglu said.

"I took a torch and when we looked our son was bleeding from the back of his head, so one of the branches had hit him."

They were unable to immediately take the child, who would have been three on Tuesday, to hospital as their car was blocked in by the fallen branches.

"My friends got someone from the closest village and he came and we went to the nearest hospital, University Hospital of the West Indies. The driver tried to go as fast as possible and when we got to the hospital everybody was waiting for us. But we had lost him on the way," said Sarioglu.

Superintendent in charge of the St Thomas Police Division, Beau Rigabie, said investigation into the matter revealed that a tree accidentally fell as a result of heavy wind.

"As far as I am concerned it was a death by misadventure, and our investigations so far have revealed that and we have not found anything else that would suggest otherwise," said Rigabie.

"But if there is anybody that knows anything else and can speak to other evidence of fact, they can contact me and we can proceed."

Allgrove, who took over ownership of the property 52 years ago, said most of the predominantly eucalyptus trees on the property have been there for a number of years and survived several hurricanes.

"One of the branches broke off one of the trees and fell on to another tree, and then fell on to the tree that these people were camping under and all three limbs came down on the tent. We have never had any problem like this before, not even in Hurricane Gilbert, and it is a real tragedy," Allgrove said.

According to Allgrove, he has since been in contact with the Forestry Department to come and do an assessment of the condition of the trees and provide advice as to any further danger that might be present.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com