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'I saw death' - Woman recalls events of stampede 40 years ago inside National Stadium

Published:Tuesday | October 18, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Parents of three of the four children who died at the National Stadium on the afternoon of October 18, 1976, wept as they saw the bodies of their children, who were trampled to death. They are from (left) Hyacinth Morris, mother of Eilene Bryan. She is being comforted by then Prime Minister Michael Manley; Joy Thompson, mother of Angella Ellis, and Rudolph Campbell, father of Ronald Campbell.
Pauline Rodney (right) and her daughter Caroline.
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A hero on Heroes Day was what Pauline Rodney made herself on October 18, 1976, when she performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, something she knew nothing about, on her daughter, Caroline, inside the National Stadium where there was a stampede.

Like yesterday's ceremony of investiture, which was part of the observance of National Heroes Day, the October 18, 1976 event was a Heroes Day celebration, and it was the first time that Nanny of the Maroons was being recognised as a National Heroine.

She went to the event at the stadium to educate herself some more on Jamaican history, but the rain came down suddenly and sent everyone scampering for shelter. Everything and everyone were literally turned upside down.

Rodney told The Gleaner that people started trampling upon each other.

 

DEVASTATING ORDEAL

 

"It was devastating. I saw death. The crowd was so big and the rain just started to fall. It was a crazy thing," she said.

Her daughter was trampled on during the stampede. She recalled how she held on to her child's leg with her might so as to stop her from falling completely to the ground.

She managed to pull her daughter away then proceeded to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She then managed to rush Caroline to the Bustamante Hospital for Children with the help of a motorist.

Rodney recalled a little boy biting into her side. She told The Gleaner that that little boy helped to give her the strength to hold on tightly to her daughter's leg by reminding her of the seriousness of the situation. That bite left a mark, which Rodney still has today, 40 years later.

"I still have the mark there. I'm keeping it as a reminder. The bite helped me to hold on," she said.

At least five persons died in that stampede, including children.

Today, Rodney is a clinical instructor in the United States of America. She said her decision to go into nursing stemmed from the incident, as well as pressure from her mother who wanted to see her on that path.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com