Father, daughter crushed to death by falling tree, son hospitalised
A man and his 13-year-old daughter were crushed to death and his 11-year-old son injured and admitted to hospital after a huge tree fell on their house in an area known as Capture Land in Buckfield, Ocho Rios, St Ann, early yesterday morning.
The dead have been identified as Shawn Shaw, otherwise called Randy, and his daughter Sherina, otherwise called Sandy. Admitted to the St Ann's Bay Hospital, with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the police, is 11-year-old Shawn Jr.
Shaw was at one time a popular newspaper vendor in Ocho Rios, and later a sky juice vendor.
Reports are that sometime after 2 yesterday morning, a cotton tree located in the yard fell during heavy showers, crushing the one-room dwelling in which the family of three lived.
The wooden structure was torn to shreds by the impact, which killed the father and daughter almost immediately.
The lone survivor, who was trapped inside the dwelling, was rescued by neighbours who had come to assist the family.
One neighbour, Vera Stewart, said she was inside her home after two o'clock when she heard a "heavy sound" which she thought, at first, was a utility pole falling.
Stewart said when she opened her door, she saw the tree on the house and another neighbour crying. They both went to assist the occupants of the house.
"When me and she rush inna di house, a di likkle bwoy mi see, him two hand and one ah him foot; we a try fi get him out but we couldn't, so other people come and tek him out. I never see the father, only one a di daughter hand I could see. Everyting trap underneath," Stewart said.
She said the tree fell because it was weakened by the burning of its trunk and roots.
"The tree root burn out, the middle burn out, it only have the two side, one side dry and one side have a little green, that's why it tear, dung; if it never burn out, it wouldn't come down," she suggested.
She couldn't say who did the burning.
Another neighbour who gave her name as Michelle said she was blessed after the tree, which was next to her house, damaged a section of her bathroom on its way down, sparing her and her two daughters who are six and eight years old.
She said Shaw had been living at the location for around six years. She said the children's mother left the home some years ago and Shaw was raising his children by himself.
"The man has been here with his two kids. Now and again, him do a little hustling. Him use to sell Gleaner, him used to sell sky juice, any little hustling," she pointed out.
Michelle said she first heard what sounded like a limb falling before the tree came down, shaking the ground. "And I just knew it was the cotton tree, because it had a hollow inside," she said.
When she opened the door and saw the tree on the house, she shouted, "Randy, Sandy, Randy, Sandy! And I hear the likkle boy voice say, 'Auntie Michelle, mi deh yah, mi deh yah!' And mi seh, 'Hol' on, baby, mi a come, mi a come.'"
"I start to scream, I holla, and people start to come up, help me tek out di likkle boy carry him up to my home, put him down on the bed. I didn't go back down, because from mi a call Sandy an' mi see har hand protruding from underneath the zinc and from mi a call her and don't hear a sound, I figure more or less out."
Police and fire personnel later arrived and removed Shawn Sr and his daughter, who were later pronounced dead.
"It's a tragedy, but I am blessed that it's not mine because I don't know what I would do," Michelle said.
One resident of the area took aim at the fire and police personnel, claiming that after they arrived, they began trying to remove the two persons trapped inside what was left of the building, while ignoring the injured boy. He said it was a motorist who took the boy to the hospital.
The police, in the meanwhile, have been unable to gather much information about the deceased but are continuing their investigations.
One female newspaper vendor who had heard about the incident before daylight said she was running late in delivering papers because she had to be there at the scene.
After moving on from selling newspapers, Shaw had started selling sky juice at a location along Main Street in Ocho Rios, for around the last two years.