Hampton mourns following suspected drowning of student
POTSDAM, St Elizabeth — Students and staff at Hampton School have been plunged into mourning following Sunday’s suspected drowning of sixth former Isa Ridgard in Treasure Beach.
Principal Mahvell Charlton-Brown on Tuesday described Ridgard as a budding journalist and an outstanding student with leadership capabilities.
“She was quite the leader and was involved in a number of clubs and activities; she actually launched one herself at the start of this academic year. She was involved in 4-H, debating, the journalism society — of which shewas vice-president — the crochet club, and she was also a member of the magazine committee,” said Charlton-Brown.
“She is very pleasant. Quite polite, very socially aware,” added the principal.
A police report said about 2:00 pm on Sunday, 18-year-old Ridgard and relatives were swimming at Old Wharf Beach (an area in Treasure Beach) when she got into difficulties and was pulled into deep waters by a wave.
The police said she was pulled out of the water by family members and transported to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
At Hampton, Ridgard was credited for proposing and forming a committee to solidify connections between Hampton and Munro students.
“She called it the HMC — Hampton Munro Connections. She and a close friend of hers submitted a proposal to the administration to form HMC in response some occurrences she learnt of in the media in the last year to two years involving ladies of Hampton as they transitioned from high school into universities,” Charlton-Brown said, adding that Ridgard had plans for a network event in March.
“Her effort was to solidify the social network between the ladies of Hampton and our brothers at Munro College. In fact, her proposal has the first networking event to be held in March of next year, that is something we are going to do our best to see through to completion in her honour and the efforts of her friends as well,” said the principal.
Grief counselling for Hampton students and staff, as well as Ridgard’s family, has been ongoing since Monday.
“Our guidance unit has been giving support to her classmates and students in sixth form as well as staff. We have received support from neighbouring counsellors. Our school chaplain has been supporting the work of the guidance department. Our old girls’ association dispatched representatives to support the young ladies,” said Charlton-Brown.
“A delegation from Hampton School visited the family and we will continue to give support,” she added.
Following Sunday’s incident Jason Henzell, a respected hotelier in Treasure Beach, is reiterating the need for more beach safety awareness and no-go zones for swimming.
“Locals know not to swim in that particular cove. That day was extremely rough,” he said.
Henzell said the suspected drowning is traumatic for Treasure Beach.
“The thing that people don’t understand is how much trauma [there is] when a drowning happens. It is so unfortunate for the family and the friends, but it is also very traumatic for the people in the community,” he said.
“I can tell you that all the locals are in disbelief that someone would have seen the sea that rough and would have gone in — it baffles their mind. At the same time, we cannot be insensitive to the loss of life,” he added.
Henzell pointed out that the incident happened close to Ponty Hole where a police trainee drowned earlier this year.
“The three most dangerous spots in Treasure Beach are Ponty Hole, Tranquility Bay Cove in Old Wharf (the eastern most cove there), and John Rocks (on the western side of Treasure Beach),” he explained.