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Parents, grandma killed trying to save child

Published:Thursday | January 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Family members comfort each other at the scene after four of their relatives died in a motor vehicle accident on the Old Harbour main road in St Catherine yesterday morning. Dead are two-year-old Ronaldinho 'Nichile' Dixon; his 27-year-old father Garieno 'Keel' Dixon; 32-year-old mother, Diane; and 45-year-old grandmother Marie Myrie-Smith. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Anastasia Cunningham, Senior Gleaner Writer

At minutes to 6 a.m. yesterday when the family awoke and found two-year-old Ronaldinho 'Nichile' Dixon not breathing, they panicked. They had been keeping a close watch on him the night before because he was running a high temperature.

His 27-year-old father, Garieno 'Keel' Dixon, grabbed him, rushed to the Toyota Corolla motor car, and drove out with Nichile's 32-year-old mother, Diane, and 45-year-old grandmother, Marie Myrie-Smith.

But less than five minutes from Myrie-Smith's Cardiff Place home in Willowdene, St Catherine, in his desperate bid to save his son, Dixon tried to overtake a line of traffic on the Old Harbour Road, by the intersection of Horizon Park, and crashed into an International truck heading in the opposite direction.

All four family members were killed.

Back home, Myrie-Smith's husband, 42-year-old Gerald, realised they had left their cellphones and were still in their nightwear. He packed a bag, collected the phones, and 15 minutes later grabbed a taxi to meet them at the Spanish Town Hospital.

"When I got out on the main road there was a lot of traffic. I found it unusual to encounter traffic that time of morning," Smith told The Gleaner.

"Eventually, a taxi man told us there was an accident up the road. Further up someone else said four persons died in a car crash. I feel my heart stop."

Smith said a few metres up the road, he got out of the taxi and walked up to the car, and realised that it was in fact the vehicle transporting his wife and family members. The taxi took him to the hospital.

"I could not believe it was them! I could not believe that they would all be dead. I was hoping when I got there the doctor would be working on them," he said, still in disbelief.

Instead, when he walked into the accident and emergency room, he was taken to an area where four bodies were covered with white sheets. He said he still could not believe they were dead and he told the nurse he wanted to see them. But even after the sheets were lifted and he saw for himself, it still did not sink in. "I couldn't believe it," was all he kept saying.

"I can't imagine my wife leaving me and the children."

Even as he sat around his dining table, surrounded by family members, friends, and church brethren hours after the horrible tragedy, Smith said it still had not soaked in.

Broke down

"I wanted to get home so bad, but I had to be at the police station answering questions. I was scared because I didn't know what I would tell the children, but when I got home, a lot of people were here and I just broke down. My daughter was crying, but she was the one comforting me," said the shaken husband.

His children, 11-year-old Annalise and five-year-old Gemari, sat bewildered among family members.

Annalise got up, trying to be helpful in an attempt to be brave and strong for her father and brother.

"I'm feeling hopeless. It really hurts," the pre-teen said.

She said she was at a neighbour's house when someone came in and told her. The brave young girl said although she cried all morning, she was hoping it wasn't true - until a lot of people started showing up at her home. Her broken father, who later walked in, confirmed her worst fears.

Baby Nichile had been staying with his grandmother since September of last year when his parents came to Jamaica from their home in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Smith said the baby started developing breathing problems and had been taken to the doctor a few times.

"They said he was not asthmatic but there was something blocking his airway and he needed surgery," he said

His parents returned to Jamaica on December 15, along with Diane's five-year-old daughter, Ebony.

The family was booked to return home on January 15, 10 days after Nichile's surgery, which was scheduled for today at Andrew's Memorial Hospital.

Smith said Diane's family took Ebony with them to Clarendon following the accident, and another teenage daughter was in Canada.

Smith, a correctional officer, said he didn't know when the reality would hit him.

"My wife had such a big heart. She was so kind and always wanted to help. She was everything to me," he said, his eyes red from hours of crying, remembering moments when his wife of 13 years was toiling around the sewing machine in her profession as a dressmaker.

Smith recalled his stepson, Garieno, who worked in construction, to be a fun-loving person who loved his family. Diane, a receptionist, was known to have a good heart and was wonderful to be around. They had been married for four years.

The driver of the motor truck was not injured. The Spanish Town police are continuing their investigations into the accident.