Mon | Nov 23, 2020

Dignified in the face of death - Brave cops pull out all the stops but fail to save woman's life

Published:Friday | August 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Persons walking towards the house in Melbrook Heights where Sonia Graham was shot last week.
Sonia Graham's son cleans up the house in Melbrook Heights where his family was attacked.
Diannne Brown-Turgott in a pensive mood as she reflects on the death of her cousin, who was fatally shot during an attack on her house in Melbrook Heights last Monday.

Six policemen from the Kingston Eastern Police Division could be forever haunted by the cries of a dying 54-year-old woman, whose life they desperately tried to save during an almost two-hour toil down a treacherous hillside last Tuesday.

Sonia Graham, described as a God-fearing Christian, her three sons and another female were attacked at their house located high in the hills of Melbrook Heights, near Harbour View, St Andrew, in a predawn attack.

Reports are that a group of gunmen threw gasolene on the windows of the house, firing wildly as they forced their way inside.

All three of Graham's sons and the other female managed to escape while the gunmen attacked. One son was shot while making his escape. He is now hospitalised in critical condition.

However, Graham, who weighed about 300 pounds, could not move after she was shot in the abdomen.

Police personnel who responded to the gunfire found her bleeding after they trekked through bushes to reach her. Graham died later that morning while undergoing surgery, but her final hours left an indelible imprint on the policemen who risked their lives to save hers.

"She dead? Oh God! It really sad, trust me. It really sad," exclaimed Sergeant David White after hearing that the woman he and his colleagues earlier hoisted on a door, their feet and hands slipping and scraping under her weight as she prayed to her creator, had died.

"She said: 'Officer, I don't want you to hurt unnuh self. If unnuh can't manage me at least me know seh me dead with a few gentleman who try fi save me life', 'cause me three son run gone left me," recounted a mournful White.




He said his team tore a door from the house to use as a makeshift stretcher after all other efforts to lift the injured woman failed.

"We use sheets and them tear, we tried using towels and them tear. The only solution we could find was to tear off the door from the hinges and put her on it," said White.

He added that at all time members of his team were on high alert for the gunmen who they thought could still be near.

"All through her ordeal coming off the hill, she was praying, and one of the time when she said, 'Officer, me know is unnuh work unnuh a do but me know me heavy and I don't want unnuh hurt unnuh self'," said White.

He told our news team that the cops took turns holding the makeshift stretcher, and one carried all their rifles and bulletproof vests while watching out for threats in the darkness around them.

"Trust me, I know her soul gone to Heaven. If this was ever put on video and sent out, it would be touching for everybody," said White.

"This was somebody who got shot. She wasn't bawling for pain. Even when we slide wid the door she said, 'Officer, don't bruck up unnuh self fi save my life'," recounted White.

Two hours later, they were at the bottom of the rocky hill, loading the thankful woman in the police vehicle.

Last Wednesday, the bloody door was testimony to the grim ordeal.

"I know she gone to Heaven. Just by how she pray as we come down the hill. I know she gone to Heaven," said White.

It is believed that a feud between two families in Melbrook Heights that started with the death of a man last June may have been behind the gun attack.

When our news team visited the community late last week, Graham's cousin, Dianne Brown-Turgott, broke down in tears as she recounted their interactions and Graham's relatively isolated life on the hill.

She thanked the policemen for their efforts to save the life of her cousin.

"Mi respect the policemen who tried to help her. They did a really good job. I was told that when they found her, she was never dead and that she was talking. It couldn't be easy for them to lift her, so if she had lived, it would have been them who saved her life," muttered Brown-Turgott.