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Mom in grief as former Holland High head boy's body found

Published:Monday | November 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Hugh Smith’s mother, Valerie Plummer, looks out to sea at the site where her son’s body was found yesterday in Falmouth.
Hugh Smith

The contrast couldn't have been more stark.

As a cruise liner headed towards Falmouth early yesterday morning, the tide was bringing in a family's worst fears.

And as holidaymakers happily disembarked the ship in the background, Hugh Smith's parents could barely contain their grief as his body washed ashore.

Smith, who had just turned 20 on November 6, was reportedly fishing with friends, standing in waist-deep water on Sunday morning, when he suddenly went under and could not be found.

Yesterday morning, anxious relatives and friends gathered along the coastline as divers resumed a search that had been launched on Sunday and had to be called off as darkness fell.

Body spotted near shore

While the search team was out about 9 a.m. yesterday, Smith's body was spotted close to shore.

Smith's parents, who were at the scene when his body was found, were devastated.

His mom, Valerie Plummer, struggled for words as The Gleaner spoke with her


"It feels really, really bad. It's bad. I don't know what to say," she said.

While she had not anticipated her son's safe return after Sunday's search only turned up a pair of goggles he had with him, the confirmation of his death had made it all too real.

That pair of goggles was the feature of a chilling screenshot of a conversation as Smith tried to source it to go diving early Sunday morning.

"Mine u drown u self [enuh] youth," he was told as he tried to find a pair goggles. "Ova deh deep [eno]."

"YOLO," Smith responded, using an expression - you only live once - meaning make use of the present without worrying about the future.

That future is now the present and several relatives and friends have been plunged into mourning.

Remembering the former Holland High School head boy as a fun-loving person, his mom said Smith "loved to make people happy. He loved to give jokes."

He also loved sports, she said. "Basketball was his life."

Smith led the way for his team, Holland Saints, to secure their first hold on the WBA Men's Basketball Championship title in August.

A devastated coach, Ricardo Brooks, who spoke with The Gleaner from the scene yesterday, said Smith was a "charismatic, dedicated, jovial" young man with great leadership qualities.

"He was always involved in something positive," Brooks added.

As news of the tragedy continued to spread, several friends turned to Facebook to pour out their grief.

"It's never good to hear that you lost a friend/brother/teammate in such way," Michael Godfrey posted.

"I won't cry for you 'cause that would mean I'm weak. You always told me, play strong, use my strength. So I won't let you down. We all will be strong for you."

" ... We all miss you. You were a great baller and an even better friend. I don't even know how to deal with this loss, but I hope you find peace," Michael West added.