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Negril tragedy - 3 children perish in house fire

Saturday, July 19, 2014    

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NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Three children died yesterday morning when fire destroyed a house at West End here in Negril.

The children, who were trapped inside the house because of the locked metal grilles, were identified as Savia McKenzie, 8, Byonce Leslie, 11, and Britannia Boning, 14.

Fire personnel said they died from smoke inhalation after attempting to save themselves by going into a bathtub which they had filled with water.

Head of the Westmoreland Fire Department Senior Deputy Superintendent Morine Thompson said the Negril station received the fire call about 6:35 yesterday morning. Upon arrival, the firefighters were told that children were inside the house but after they cut the grille and put out the blaze they discovered the bodies of the three children in the bathroom, slumped in the bathtub with water.

"I was at home in Whitehall when somebody came and called me to tell me of the sad news. This has left me devastated," said a grieving Mary Jackson Clarke, the grandmother of the 14-year-old, Boning, and the great grandmother for the other two children. She said her blood pressure had risen and she had to swallow two cloves of garlic after receiving news of the tragedy.

The other two children -- McKenzie and Leslie -- had gone to spend holidays with Boning's mother, who is their grandaunt.

She said she was told that the couple rode out yesterday morning on a motorcycle, one headed for work, while her granddaughter went to the gym.

The Jamaica Observer understands that McKenzie's mother and grandmother collapsed and were later hospitalised after hearing about the tragedy.

Residents who gathered on the scene yesterday expressed shock and disbelief, some crying openly as they mourned the untimely passing of the three young ones.

In the wake of the tragedy, the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) urged parents and caregivers to ensure that adequate arrangements are in place for their children to have proper adult supervision at all times.

"The OCR also wishes to remind parents that under the law a child is anyone under 18 years old," a release from the OCR stated.

Registrar at the OCR, Greig Smith, who was on the scene while the bodies were being removed from the house, was overcome with grief.

"It is extremely sad to see the loss of such young lives due to the reckless behaviour of the very person responsible for caring and protecting them. Too many persons continue to take it for granted that children can be left to take care of each other while their parents are away from home engaging in other activities," said Greig.

"This careless practice needs to stop and those who are found in breach will be charged by the police for neglect," he said.

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