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Bound by bravery

Published:Tuesday | October 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Stephen Gabbadon (left) and Private Ferdinand Trench show the rope that the Jamaica Defence Force soldier used to pull Gabbadon to safety after he slipped and fell over a precipice last year. - photos by Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Professor Terrence Forrester (left) and Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert, newly appointed members of the Order of Jamaica, prepare to meet the prime minister (not pictured) after yesterday's ceremony.

Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter

JDF private, rescued man forever linked by heroic act

Stephen Gabbadon was just trying to be a 'Good Samaritan', but he was the one who ended up needing saving.

On August 6 last year, Gabbadon tried to direct traffic along the Junction main road in St Mary after a car had stalled.

"It was very late, very dark and I ended up slipping off the precipice. I fell about 80-90 feet," he recalled. He suffered various injuries including broken ribs but the real danger was that his right lung had collapsed.

"I could hear people shouting but nobody was brave enough to make the journey until he came," Gabbadon said.

The 'he' referred to is Private Ferdinand Trench. The soldier, in full ceremonial gear, was awarded the Badge of Honour For Gallantry during yesterday's Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards at King's House in St Andrew.

"I was passing and I came upon the situation. I heard persons bickering and calling for help," Trench told The Gleaner after collecting his award.

Through quick thinking he started getting some resources that included rope, a part of a seat belt and a flashlight.

"I made my way down and seeing him, I made a knot on the rope, threw it to him and he put it underneath his arms and I started pulling him towards the road," Trench recalled.

Pulled to safety

Despite the injuries and pain Gabbadon was suffering from, Trench was confident he would not only pull him to safety, but not hurt him any further.

"Telling him to put the ropes under his arms, those are the strongest points. He had strong legs so that actually aided him to get to the top."

Gabbadon isn't entirely sure how long he was down the precipice before Trench reached him, but he is thankful it wasn't too long.

"It was probably 10 to 15 minutes. But it was hard to breathe and I could barely shout. But he could hear me just enough to hear where I was," he said. "They got me up quickly and the doctors said without that, if I was down there for much longer, I would have been a goner."

Nominations for honours and awards must be sent in by March, so Gabbadon's nomination of Trench was overdue for 2011, but he was not going to miss 2012. The two were busy taking photographs at King's House after the ceremony, both holding the rope that will forever connect them.

"We're good friends now," laughed Trench as they bumped fists.