Grief in Epsom district Missing 8-year-old found dead at sea

Grief in Epsom district Missing 8-year-old found dead at sea

By Shanae Stewart
Staff reporter

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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“Kimora, yuh grandmother a call you” was all Sophia Clarke uttered, repeatedly, as she held the lifeless body of her eight-year-old granddaughter Kimora Whyte yesterday.

The child, who had gone missing Monday afternoon after attempting to cross a river in Epsom district, St Mary, was found dead at sea in Annotto Bay in the parish by the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard yesterday afternoon.

Kimora's grandmother, who spotted the coast guard coming ashore, cried out: “A nuh come dem a come! A nuh come dem a come wid har!”

Clarke, who said she had come all the way from Clarendon, shared that she heard the news about her granddaughter on Monday night but had been unable to make it to St Mary then. She also said Kimora, who was her oldest grandchild, had brought joy to the lives of many.

“Every time mi go weh [overseas] mi come look fi dem (her grandchildren) because me affi bring dem things fi dem. Mi did fi go weh this year and me say mi nah go. Is like mi feel say something a guh wrong. Mi granddaughter run the relay and she never make it. She lose it!” Clarke cried yesterday.

She continued: “She was fun-loving, and there was no bad time with Kimora.”

A resident of Kimora's community, Epsom district, Leroy Plummer, told the Jamaica Observer that residents, along with members of the security forces, had been searching for the young girl since Monday.

“About from 5 o'clock yesterday (Monday) evening we a search. The little girl was my neighbour and, you know, we have to take care of everybody, so we out here looking. We only find her school shoes. A over two years now the river nuh come down here,” Plummer said.

“When we find out say she missing, we make an alarm and asked everybody who was home if they saw her and nobody saw her. We start search from home to home, and by the river, because is only one way she coulda cross [it],” he continued. “The police come in, fireman, member of parliament, and we search 'til about 11 o'clock last night (Monday) and from this morning (yesterday) at about 6:00 we start search again.

“We start search the seaside and we nuh see no sign of her, nothing at all,” he said, minutes before her body was found.

Kimora's aunt, Joan Lyttle, told the Observer that she had seen her niece before she left for school on Monday morning.

“We live together from she born in our family house. It is an unfortunate situation because the teachers usually call whenever they are sending a child home from school. She was sent home because she wasn't feeling well. Is a small community and everybody know everybody, so yes, she used to walk home. They (school administrators) said they sent her home about 2 o'clock. I don't know if there was a change of story, but that is the information I received.

“What I speculate is that she came down from school, saw the water, misjudged the strength of the water and tried to cross, and it just trip her over and take her away,” the aunt said. “We found the shoes yesterday because normally her mother would tell her to bring her slippers so that when any water is in the vicinity of the bridge she crosses to go home, she can trade the shoes for the slippers.”

In the meantime, Norman Lewis, vice-chairman of the board of Epsom Primary School, who was at the scene yesterday when Kimora's body was brought ashore, extended condolences to the family.

He also told the Observer that Kimora was a special child.

Member of Parliament for St Mary South Eastern Norman Dunn, who was also in Annotto Bay yesterday, extended condolences to Kimora's family on behalf of the Government and people of St Mary.

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