CLIFTON Russell threw his face into his palms and sobbed as police tried to figure out how his friend mysteriously fell to his death while painting a building in New Kingston yesterday afternoon.
It seemed the more the officers quizzed the 80-year-old, the more reality sank in that his friend, Uriah Freeman, was gone, and the harder he cried.
"I was in the bathroom and I heard the sound (of the impact) outside and I run come out come see him on the ground. Wi tek him up and was trying to talk to him, but all now he wouldn't answer," the man sobbed, wiping a mixture of tears and snot from his face.
"Same time the security come with some water and throw pon him, but him never move, him never respond," he continued, glancing timidly at the body lying on its back.
The deceased painter, who was said to be in his 60s, fell from the third floor of a multi-storey parking garage behind the PanCaribbean building on Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston shortly after midday.
It seemed the impact was to his head, as it was cracked open. Trails of blood were coming from his mouth and nostrils. Freeman's painting tools were scattered beside him.
Russell, swallowing hard as he continued, said: "The last thing I asked him is if him want wi come and draw the carpet," said Russell, in reference to Seymour Peart, another elderly painter.
The three had been painting since 8:00 am, he said.
"He (Freeman) said 'no, that is all right' and continued working. We did everything come right up; the last thing he paint was that piece of wall and then went upstairs," he added, pointing to an exterior wall freshly painted light brown.
With Freeman's response that he didn't need any help, Russell said Peart went for a break in a nearby park, while he (Russell) went to the bathroom downstairs. Freeman, ironically, was painting an interior wall when he fell, Russell said.
"I don't know if is breeze blow him down or what," a bewildered Peart told the Jamaica Observer. "I just hear like the tool them drop and when I walk come over I see him lying on the ground."
"All now I can't believe that the man dead. We just talk to him," he moaned.
The mysterious incident also befuddled a police corporal interviewing the two. The lawman questioned whether Freeman might have been pushed. That theory, however, was dispelled by Russell, who assured the cop that he and his colleagues were the only ones on the premises.
The incident drew the attention of passers-by, some of whom watched in horror as investigators loaded Freeman into a black body bag. Some persons took photographs with their cellular phones.