Death by crab?

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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MARTHA BRAE, Trelawny - A grieving Rastafarian couple is livid over allegations that it was shortly after consuming crab meat at school that their 10-year-old daughter Makeda Sheba Cole fell ill and died in Trelawny last week.

Both bereaved parents, Damion Cole and Miriam Martin of Martha Brae, Trelawny addresses, told the Jamaica Observer West that in accordance with their Rastafarian faith, shell food is prohibited from their daughter's diet.

“As far as what I hear is that she ate crab, but I know Makeda don't eat crab. We don't eat crab, definitely! So, that is where I get vex and know the whole argument is contrary,” the father lamented.

“She is a Rastafarian princess and is just fruits and vegetables she mostly eat. She don't eat meat so she wouldn't even a think about eating crab because she born eating just natural food. She don't know da crab suppen deh. It nuh inna har diet, it nuh inna har genes,” he said.

Makeda was a student of Granville Primary School.

The distressed parents expressed that they are now eagerly awaiting autopsy results to know what led to their beloved daughter's sudden passing.

“We just need justice right now for Makeda and we are just waiting until the autopsy comes in and then we will take it from there,” the distraught mother told the Observer West.

Ivanhoe Gordon, principal of Granville Primary School, recounted that last week Wednesday, the young student became ill and was taken to the sickbay for treatment and was later transported to hospital.

“She collapsed in the class and she was revived in the sickbay and then we rushed her off to the hospital, so it was on her way to the hospital where she would have died. She was in the guidance counsellor's lap. It happened so fast,” the obviously shaken principal said.

“I called the fire service ambulance and they said it was not in service, but at the same time a guy came to me in a pickup and we led her to the pick-up right away and the guidance counsellor went with her,” he continued.

Gordon said personnel from the Public Health Department subsequently visited the school and compiled a list of the children who had consumed crab, purchased “over the fence” on the same day that the 10-year-old died.

“I checked through the entire school and I found 34 students who had crab. They were all at school and did not show any symptom of anything at all,” he pointed out.

But a sister of the bereaved mother is accusing the school of negligence, which she claimed resulted in her niece's demise.

“Is neglectful dem neglectful. Not because is not their child; the child is attending the school and is government school. That look so bad. That is so shameful. It is a disgrace,” she charged.

Gordon, who has visited with the bereaved family, told the Observer West that having lost his 16-year-old son some two decades ago, he can relate to the family's grief.

“The death of a child is not easy for a parent. I would have experienced that 20 years ago when my first son died, 11 days short of his 16th birthday. So I know what it feels like firsthand,” the senior educator revealed.

Cole, meanwhile described his daughter as a nice princess who was jovial and always happy.

“Everyone loved her,” he said.


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