Wed | Apr 24, 2019

Mother seeks further investigation into Walker's Place of Safety fire

Published:Tuesday | April 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Family members of Anna Kaye Moreland mourn in front of her picture during a memorial service held at the Faith Tabernacle Shiloh Apostolic Church on April 9.
Dr Peter Phillips, leader of the Opposition and member of parliament for East Central St Andrew, places a rose in a jar during a memorial service for Oneika McCrae and Anna Kaye Moreland at the Faith Tabernacle Shiloh Apostolic Church, off Lyndhurst Road, yesterday.

Trudy Parker, mother of Oneika McCrae, one of two wards of the state who perished in the January 16 fire that destroyed the Walker's Place of Safety, yesterday expressed dissatisfaction with the fire report, calling for further investigation into the incident.

"From January the children them burn up and a now them a go tell me say a short circuit cause it. No, no, I don't feel so," Parker exclaimed yesterday during a memorial service for the two girls at the Faith Tabernacle Shiloh Apostolic Church in east central St Andrew.

The report from the fire department revealed in late March that the blaze resulted from an electrical short-circuit that originated in a dorm on the first floor to the west of the building. It further disclosed that the home was last inspected by the fire department on July 28, 2016, and found to be compliant with standard fire-prevention practices.


Placed at Walker's after fire


However, speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Parker rubbished the findings of the report and called for the Government to intervene to find out "what really happened".

"I can't be satisfied with it (the report)," she said. "I'm still grieving. I can't cry enough. Every day since, I wonder if she really gone just like that, after I left her in a place of safety," said Parker, pointing out that 12-year-old Oneika was placed in state care in 2011 after a fire destroyed her one-room board house in Jones Town.

"I struggled to build it back. It's concrete now, and the arrangement was to let her stay at Walker's until I rebuild. But they said that I still needed a kitchen," she told The Gleaner. "They have everything at Walker's - kitchen, bathroom, everything, yet the place burn down. I am here today, my child isn't. Even if I get a million dollar now, it won't help, no amount of money will!" Parker concluded.

 ... Father inconsolable during memorial

Denzil Moreland, father of Anna Kaye Moreland, one of the two wards who died in the January 16 blaze that destroyed Walker's Place of Safety was inconsolable throughout the memorial service yesterday.

He was not alone, as students from Best Care School of Special Education, which both deceased girls attended, also broke down while performing their musical item.

Emotions really started to spill over when 18-year-old Selena Reid, a fellow ward of Walker's and friend of both girls, began to weep as she clutched the microphone, preparing to lead the other wards in song.

"We're singing from our hearts because we love them," she said before performing a rendition of You Raise Me Up.

The emotional service included tributes from Opposition Leader Peter Phillips, state minister with responsibility for youth, Floyd Green, and children from Walker's Place of Safety who have been placed in three children's homes across the Corporate Area following the January 16 fire that destroyed their original residence.

Earlier in his tribute, Green had announced that he had recommended that the Medal of Gallantry be awarded later this year to Reid, who had risked her life on the night of the inferno to save her peers; Grace Allen, manager at Walker's; and Kimani Anderson, a male living beside the home who rescued some of the wards during the blaze.