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Dad of girl killed in fire now wants to sue State

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Denzil Moreland, a distraught father who is still trying to come to terms with death of his only child Anna-Kay who perished in a fire while she was in State care last year, is now planning to file a lawsuit against the Government.

Moreland told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that he has been communicating with an attorney.

His daughter Anna-Kay, who was 16 years old and Onieka McCrea, 12 – both special needs children – perished during the January 16 early-morning blaze at Walker's Place of Safety on Lyndhurst Crescent, in Kingston last year.

Thirty-four wards and their caregivers survived the fire. Some of the children were relocated to other child-care facilities, reintegrated with family, while others were placed in foster care.

“They take her away, a never me put her there enuh and she died there,” Moreland said, adding that he's waiting on the death certificate from the Child Protection and Family Service Agency (CPFSA) to start the process.

Moreland, a fruit vendor, told the Observer that he and relatives had a get-together last week to commemorate Anna-Kay's life.

“Mi still see her face every day. Every morning I look at her picture,” he said.

Onieka's mother, Trudy Parker, said she felt like her daughter has been forgotten.

“One year now and nothing from nobody at all; it look like she is forgotten,” Parker said.

Reiterating that when she placed her only daughter in State care, which after her house in Jones Town was destroyed by a fire was the safest option, the regretful mother said she cries every day. “It hard, it hard,” she said.

Like Moreland, she too, has been waiting on the death certificate.

“I went to CPFSA and they said it no ready yet.

In addition to that, Parker, a mother of three, said Onieka's death has taken a toll on her 19-year-old son who was at work when the Observer visited her at her home in Jones Town, yesterday.

“Him no really talk much since the fire,” she added. At the same time, she complained that she has not gotten a response in relation to a compensation letter that she had sent to the Office of the Prime Minister, through the CPFSA.

Responding to questions posed by the Observer, the CPFSA said commitments were made and honoured to undertake full coverage of funeral expenses.

“Other meetings were held looking at the welfare of the parents and financial assistance was given for start-up,” the agency stated.

The agency also confirmed that they received a letter from Parker requesting compensation.

The agency explained that the letter is being handled by the Attorney General's Office.

As it relates to the death certificates, the agency said they will advise the parents as soon as they are in possession of copies.

“The agency sympathises with the families and continues to grieve the loss of these girls. We reiterate our availability to further dialogue with the family at any time,”

On Tuesday when the newspaper visited the burnt-out premises, the high vegetation was a clear indication that construction had not yet started.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green told the Observer that the design for the $106-million facility had been completed. It was unclear, however, when construction would start.

Following the fire, corporate Jamaica and individuals donated $21 million in cash, while others gave pledges in kind.