Shock, disbelief at drowning of Seprod employeeTuesday, July 27, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
KAREEM Coley's death by drowning in the Rio Grande on Sunday has plunged his community — Padmore district in Red Hills, St Andrew — as well as his co-workers at Seprod Group into shock.
One female resident of Padmore district, who opted not to be named, broke down in tears yesterday as she described the close relationship she shared with Coley.
“Everybody was calling my phone that day. When I say I am close to him, I know everything about him. Mi 'meds' mash up [mentally distraught]. This is the worst news I've heard leading up to my birthday. I didn't know I would have to say goodbye to someone I was this close to,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
News emerged on Sunday that 24-year-old Coley was among a group of people from his community who went swimming in a section of the river at an area called Nasty Davis in Golden Vale, Portland, about 4:00 pm.
When the Observer visited Padmore district yesterday, grief and shock visibly blanketed the community.
“Mi feel a way. Mi feel sad... stressed. I am so shocked. I can't believe,” said resident Asasha Burnside. “He is so young, him don't live no life yet. I don't know why they had to go [on the outing].”
Another resident, Tajay Johnson, remembered Coley as a jovial, hard-working person.
“He was someone you would want to have in your circle. He was a very good friend… far we coming from. I always told him that no matter where I am in the world, he has to be there too because even though he was younger, I respected him a lot. Honestly, I am lost for words right now. I really can't believe the man just gone like that,” he said.
Kerry-Ann Nelson shared similar sentiments about Coley.
“Kareem was a very jovial person. Anywhere he saw me he would hail me up and ask if I am doing good. You can always talk to him, he was always giving you a little smile,” she said.
Another resident added, “He was so humble, not a man of many words, and he was always smiling. He was also a great lover of football, very dedicated to the sport,” he said.
Coley was employed at Seprod Group in 2018 as a plant assistant. He was promoted to an assistant technical operator in 2020 at Jamaica Grains and Cereals, a Seprod subsidiary.
Richard Pandohie, CEO of Seprod Group, told the Observer that Coley was a dedicated employee who did his job effectively.
“When I heard yesterday evening, it was just not the call I expected. I just can't imagine what his mother is going through. At our company, everybody is deeply saddened by his death. He is not just an employee, he is somebody's son …it is just a rough time,” Pandohie said.
“He is a person who we had a lot of hopes for and it shook everyone, especially those in the factory, very badly. He was one of those people who needed little supervision. He was such a pleasant and positive young man. I am genuinely sorry he is gone,” Pandohie added.
The Observer learnt that people in the group had tried, without success, to resuscitate Coley. He was taken to Port Antonio Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Coley's body was removed to the morgue and a post-mortem is to be conducted as soon as possible.
The Portland police are investigating.
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