Families say goodbye to inseparable friends - Drowned NCU students were full of promise, says president
Friends and relatives yesterday paid their final respects to Karanjah Gayle and Joseph Anderson, the two Northern Caribbean University (NCU) students who drowned while swimming on New Year’s Day.
The two best friends, both 26 years old, were swimming at Frenchman’s Bay in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, when they experienced difficulties about 3:20 p.m. and were swept away.
Anderson’s body was retrieved the following day, but challenging sea conditions forced divers to delay searching for Gayle’s body, which was last seen some 30 metres off the coast. The search team failed to locate the body when they resumed the operation.
That has made the grief even more devastating for Gayle’s family.
“We do not have a body here today and it is the first experience in our family. It is sad,” Gayle’s uncle Donnovan Jones said at the joint funeral held yesterday at NCU. “We have had some very rough moments – family members crying out in their sleep, wanting to go back to the location, wanting questions answered, wondering why the body could not be retrieved.
“The memories that we have, we will cherish, and we will continue to demonstrate our love as a family in his absence,” he said.
In tributes yesterday, the men were remembered as inseparable friends who did everything together, made similar decisions, dressed alike, and, unfortunately, even died together.
“ … These two young men, so full of promise, were doing things differently. They did not allow peer pressure and the lure of a quick fix to [sway] them from the path of accomplishment and future successes … ,” NCU President Dr Lincoln Edwards said. “The impact they made on this campus has left an indelible mark on the hearts and lives of men … . We would have loved to see them finish their degrees and move on to change the world in a positive way, but this is not so.”
Gayle was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and Anderson, a member of the Jamaica Defence Force, was pursuing a bachelor’s in computer and information science with a minor in communication.
Lecturer Lawrie Henry, who taught both men, said she admired their work ethic, particularly Gayle, who she said showed marked improvement last semester –moving from average to an ‘A’ student.
In her tribute, Anderson’s sister, Hannah, revealed that the last words she heard from her brother were “Don’t come. Turn back”, as she was also scheduled to be part of the ill-fated New Year’s Day trip, but failed to make it because she was running late.
Through the tributes, it was evident that both men loved their families, particularly their partners, and did all they could to provide a better future for their sons.
Now both families are left to form an even tighter their bond and provide support for each other and the young boys who that will grow up with questions of their own and a longing for daddy to come home.