Family of drowned twin brothers assisted
Delapenha Funeral Home to underwrite costs associated with burial
BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
MONTEGO BAY, St James
DELAPENHA'S Funeral Home is underwriting the costs associated with the funerals for the nine -year-old twins, Brandon and Brayden Jones, who died last week after they were swept away by angry flood waters in the North Gully, St James.
A day after the tragedy, the twins' battered and bruised bodies were fished from the harbour near the Dump Up Beach in the resort city of Montego Bay.
"We have received assistance from Delapenha in terms of the expenses associated with whatever a funeral home would have been doing from their end," said Audrey Bernard-Kilbourne, the boys' aunt, who is charged with the responsibility of making the arrangements for the funerals.
"I am very, very much grateful, I am humbled by the kind gesture because as Dale (Delapenha, the managing director of the funeral home) expressed, when he heard the tragic news about the boys, he did not know who they were, but it was so touching... his entire staff was moved by the story and it was really the buzz in his office for the day."
According to Bernard- Kilbourne, Delapenha immediately instructed his staff that "if we should come by he would want to do something special for the boys."
"Not knowing what was being done behind the scenes, we checked in the funeral home, getting costs and trying to compare prices in an effort to get the best value for money. There we were informed that Mr Delapenha wanted to meet with us, and out of that meeting the assistance came," she told the Jamaica Observer West.
Yesterday, Delapenha pointed out that the assistance being given by his company to the family of the deceased boys will include the preparation of the bodies, provision of caskets, funeral programmes and transportation to the church and graveside.
"All of what we do here (funeral home), we have decided to give it to the family free of cost," Delapenha stressed, declining to put a dollar value on the level of assistance his company is providing.
But a source close to the funeral home, however, told the Observer West that the service being provided by the funeral home would "normally cost anywhere between $450,000 and $500,000".
Delapenha said in the meantime that his company took the decision to offer a helping hand so as "to relieve the family of the financial burden, as well as some of the stress they have been undergoing".
"For us (staff members) we find that the hardest cases to deal with are those of children; they are usually very touching and so when we were made aware of the tragedy that the family is facing we could only imagine the pain and suffering from such a tragic event, so not wanting to add any financial burden and more stress to them, we decided to do the funerals free of cost," he explained.
He said his funeral home, which commenced business in Montego Bay in 1992, has had a long history of "trying to help out in tragic instances".
"I can recall that in the 1990s there was a major tragedy where five children lost their lives in a car accident in St James, and we did all of those funerals free, just to ease some of the burden on the family," he explained.
Since the tragic loss of the twin brothers, who resided at Cornwall Courts and were students at the Green Pond Primary School, several political representatives, including Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, Members of Parliament Dr Horace Chang and Lloyd B Smith, as well as officials of the Ministry of Education have visited the family to offer their condolences and to provide counselling.
Meanwhile, autopsies on the bodies of the brothers are expected to be done today, ahead of the funeral service scheduled for the
Kings Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mount Salem, St James on Sunday, starting at 10:30 am. The bodies will then be interred in Petersfield, Westmoreland.
According to Bernard -Kilbourne, a candlelight service is set for tonight in Cornwall Courts, while another will be held on Saturday night in Flanker.