Mon | Jan 21, 2019

People's Report: Don't let my son's death be in vain

Published:Saturday | June 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Mikhail Campbell, who died in a car crash with Danielle Hanson in 2014.

On November 29, 2014, my beloved son, Mikhail 'Skim' Campbell, a first-year medical student at the University of the West Indies, was a victim of a tragic motor accident in which he was a passenger. Mikhail was studying on campus for the upcoming semester exams and was asked by his classmate to accompany her to buy a meal when tragedy struck.

Our family will never be the same. As I sit here writing and still ailing, aching, broken-hearted, distraught, depressed and dismayed, I cannot but reflect on his untimely passing and rehearse in silence, and sometimes aloud, the last conversations we had.

In this particular instance, my son, being the gentleman he was, although tired, could not bring himself to let a young woman go unaccompanied to a restaurant in the middle of the night. So, he said 'yes' that fateful, unalterable word, as it turned out. I am still struggling to come to grips with the incredible odds that he should have died in a motor vehicle accident fulfilling a mission of charity, even as he was known among his friends as 'the tortoise' at the UWI for being the most cautious and perhaps the slowest driver.

If only tears and prayers could bring him back, he would be here even as I write. As a parent, the death of a child is an unimaginable event; it is a nightmare, and it is simply horrendous. Resulting from an unforeseeable tragedy is even more unspeakable and unbearably tragic.

Though grateful beyond measure for the support of family, friends and colleagues, their kindnesses, words of wisdom and the sage advice of elders, pastors and professionals, I remain in that dark place (the valley of the shadow ...). Some say it was destiny or fate. Others insist that the accident was caused by speeding. Still, others blame the poor visibility and condition of the road.

The official report has failed to dispel the view that the tragedy was a result of speeding. The last words I had with my son on that night was about 'road safety', not because he was a careless or an irresponsible young man but because this is something that I instilled in him and affirmed at every opportunity. Consequently, I was completely unprepared for such an outcome.

Mikhail was a priceless gem, a one-of-a-kind child for whom words are not enough to describe. His motto, 'Work hard in silence, let success make the noise', aptly gives a glance into his character and unassuming nature. "Mommy, why do people have bad things to say about others and have to be unkind? There is good in everyone, no matter what," he would say.

He had just turned 19 and had set out to follow his dream of helping to change the world. His best friend recently told me that the last conversation they had was of his wish to complete medical school, go abroad for two years, and work enough money so he could return to Jamaica to help the poor and less fortunate. They often told him he would be one of the poorest doctors that anyone would find.


An appeal to the youth


Why am I writing this you may ask? Apart from hopefully helping to relieve my saddened, forlorn spirit, I appeal to those young persons who are driving to take a pause, do not yield to the temptation to speed. It could bring a sudden end to their young lives and leave for their loved ones remaining a torrent of pain that is immeasurable.

I am a living witness of the damage to self, soul and body wrought by the tragic loss of a dearly, beloved son. I struggle through days when, in my sorrow and distress, as a disconsolate mother, I feel like giving up but for the sanctifying grace of a loving God and the presence of two remaining precious children.

I am encouraged for these reasons to hold fast to faith and not succumb to the promptings of my unqualified grief. The words of our Master, as He hung, dying from the Cross, to His mother to comfort her, "Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother" are my sustaining refuge and shield.

To his friends, who in their youth and ignorance embrace the notion that accidents can't happen to them and that they are indestructible, I urge you to learn from this tragedy. There is an invaluable lesson of being responsible, careful and mindful of how your actions impact others in your immediate circle and the wider communities in which you operate and live.

To Mikhail's colleagues, his siblings and, indeed, so many of those with whom he interacted, who held him as a role model and relied on him for support, continue to enjoy with humility, understanding and sensitivity, the gift of life.

Cherish the memories of my son, with whom you shared quality time and who perhaps died that you may all be more respecting of the precious gift bestowed on you by a merciful Father - LIFE.

Make your conduct and actions from henceforth examples of respect, responsibility and the resolve to make this world a better place. Let Mikhail's life not have been in vain.

A scholarship fund has been established in his memory, which is currently in place. The proceeds will be donated to his alma mater, Campion College, annually. If you are interested in contributing to this fund, please send an email to for further details.

I thank God for saving me and giving me a second chance at life so that I can complete His will and purpose and be present to my two other children who, in addition to losing a brother, nearly lost their mother, too. I give God thanks for my dear biological family, friends who are as family, my Sagicor and church family, who all journeyed with me during the worst of times.

To the doctors who were at the thanksgiving service, those at the Kingston Public and St Joseph's hospitals who ministered to my health needs in my darkest and most challenging hours, and my darling daughter who, with other medical practitioners present, worked assiduously to resuscitate me after my collapse in the church, I take this opportunity to publicly extend my sincerest gratitude, appreciation and love.