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'It's God's work' - Proud mother says bus-driving heroine was moved by the Creator

Published:Saturday | January 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

Florence Gordon-Howard is a deeply religious woman who believes that God plays a role in our daily lives.

As such, the heroics of her youngest daughter, Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus driver, 32-year-old Annette Howard, in assisting injured persons at the crash site of the American Airlines (AA) Flight 331 on the Palisadoes Road on Tuesday, December 22, 2009, was God's doing.

"It's not really she, it's God's work. I don't know if she could have managed by herself if she was not a prayer person. I think it's the Lord's plan, it's a miracle and I want her back in church," said the Seventh-day Adventist.

Very proud

Nevertheless, she was proud of her daughter's actions.

"I feel very, very proud. I'm just saying thank you, Jesus. I'm happy because it makes me move closer to Jesus."

The younger Howard is being hailed a heroine after she raced to the crash site in the pouring rain and assisted scores of injured passengers from the plane that overshot the airport runway and ended up on a beach nearby.

She then drove the injured persons to hospital.

Her actions have been commended by several persons and she met with Prime Minister Bruce Golding Thursday morning, who commended her.

Not surprised

Her mother, though, was not surprised by her daughter's bravery.

"That's the way I grow them (her children). We were poor but I taught them to be honest, humble and respectful and that is what is taking us through 'til now."

Growing up in Papine, then later August Town and Lady Huggins Avenue, little Annette was a quiet girl who was always willing to help with whatever needed to be done.

"Everything I do in the home, she played a part in it. We were so poor but the little I had we worked together and made sure it reached."

She attended Hope Valley Experimental before moving on to New Day Primary.

"She later attended an Adventist school on Osbourne Road then spent a short period at West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University)."

Gordon-Howard related how her daughter broke the news to her.

Scared but ...

"Mama, yuh would a neva know wha happen!" Annette had shouted over the phone.

Her mom got scared.

"I'm a prayer person but I'm always scared sometimes when they call," she explained.

"But then I said 'What? What? What'?

'Yuh know seh a plane crash?'

'Yuh crazy! I neva know seh plane crash ah Jamaica'!"

She said it was some time after 10 o'clock when her daughter called. She related the incident to her.

Reports later emerged that the plane had actually careened across the road in front of the approaching bus.

Mrs Howard said she had actually heard a report of the incident on television news and the mention of a JUTC bus "but I neva imagine seh a mi daughter".

Annette is the last of six children, three boys and three girls, for her mother. She lost a brother some time ago. In addition, Gordon-Howard has adopted a son.