Coates believes granddaughter's death might have resulted from an attempt to rescue himThursday, April 29, 2021
JOHN'S HALL, St James — Corporal Hopeton Coates is struggling with the notion that his 12-year-old granddaughter Hemmecia Greenwood, affectionately called 'Savoy,' who perished in a fire that devastated his house on April 19, might have met her demise in an attempt to rescue him.
“Based on where she was found in the [rubble], it is one of those thoughts that have been going through my head that she would have thought maybe that her grandfather was still in the house at the time of the fire,” pondered the grief-stricken grandfather.
He explained: “The exit would have been on her left and she would have been found a great distance from where the exit was, so maybe she was looking for me.”
The distressed grandfather told the Jamaica Observer West that the Irwin High seventh grade student and her two siblings were dropped off at his home by their mother where they participated in online classes with their two cousins, who live with him and his wife.
He outlined that the children were engaged in online classes inside the house but only went outside to play after a disruption in the power supply. But he later learned that while he was asleep in his bedroom, Hemmecia returned to the house to sleep in her cousins' room.
“Waking out of my sleep, my first [instinct] was to get out of the house. But I didn't realise that she had stopped playing with them and, based on what they said, she said that she had a headache and went into the room to sleep,” said Coates.
Hemmecia's mother, Marissa Vernon, told the Observer West that she now loathes fire so much that she has not cooked since the tragic incident.
“I haven't cooked since that time. First time I ate something would have been yesterday (last Friday). I hate fire. From mi hear of the fire and she could not be found, I knew she was in the house sleeping at the time of the fire. Mi always tell her that she sleep too much,” bemoaned the bereaved mother.
“Mi and her had morning worship in the car on the morning she died and we sang Great is Thy Faithfulness because that is the song she wanted to sing. After that, we said the Lord is My Shepherd. They (children) asked me to bring back grapes for them. Mi not even get to buy the grapes them all now... mi lunch still in the fridge at the office.
“Although she gone mi accept it with grace because it could have been the three of them sleeping in there. Is the first in a long time mi feel the Holy Spirit so. She died a day after the first anniversary of her baptism.”
Last Friday, executive members of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) St James East Central constituency presented four tablets and a gift voucher valued at $100,000 to the distraught family during a visit to the site of the burnt out house.
Constituency chairman Edmund Bartlett, who called for corporate support for the family, said he will be mobilising some support in the rebuilding of the house.
“We are saddened by the tragic death of the child and we as a constituency always respond to these issues when they come up and we will be making an appeal to the wider community to support them as they try to rebound and rebuild their lives in this difficult time. It's really a sad period to have the coronavirus crisis and now this. My heart is with them,” Bartlett said.
Coates, who left his hotel room at Deja Resorts, where he and seven other members of his family were staying for the weekend, courtesy of the Jamaica Police Federation, expressed gratitude on behalf of his family for the assistance that has been given to them so far.
“We are planning on rebuilding... we are picking up the pieces. We have to be strong. We lost everything, the only thing I came out with was my underpants and merino I was wearing,” he said.
The Freeport Fire Station reported that about 3:07 pm on Monday, April 19, a call was received that a house was on fire on Potosi Drive in the John's Hall community.
“Upon arrival the house was fully engulfed in flames and after cooling down operations the charred remains of the 12- year-old girl was found in the rubble,” the fire brigade spokesman said.
Investigations are still ongoing to determine the cause of the blaze.
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