United in grief

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April 15, 2021

TWO strangers united in grief yesterday while testifying about the fate of their spouses during a Coroner's Court inquest into the presumed deaths of people reported missing after Hurricane Dorian.

Jason Farquharson said he searched seven days for his wife before learning that storm surges destroyed her house balcony and plunged her into the sea.

Tervilla Caintil, meanwhile, broke into tears and said she walked among dead bodies in the Pigeon Peas before finding the lifeless body of her husband, Emmanuel Caintil.

Nineteen months after the monster storm struck Abaco and Grand Bahama, the long-awaited inquest is an effort to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding the presumed deaths of at least 34 missing people and to bring some official closure to family members concerning their deaths.

When Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in September 2019, Mr Farquharson lived in New Providence while his wife, Kathleen, lived with her son in Abaco.

Mr Farquharson said he couldn’t reach his wife on September 1, 2019 and didn’t reach anyone from Abaco until they arrived to New Providence seven days later.

He said his stepson, Kahlel Smith, 19, eventually contacted his brother-in-law, who later informed him that his wife “did not make it”.

Recounting the story as told to him by Mr Smith, Mr Farquharson said when his wife and stepson opened the door of their home to people seeking shelter, the wind tore down the door hinges and blew the door away.

“They tried to block the door entrance but the winds were too strong and they started feeling the roof shaking. He told his mum to put on her tennis (shoes) and they put a blanket around her and they went on the balcony,” he said.

Mr Farquharson said storm surges caused the pair to fall into the water shortly afterwards as the balcony collapsed.

Mr Smith, he said, struggled to remain above the water and eventually clung to a pole on which he blacked out “for a few minutes.”

Upon regaining consciousnesses, Mr Smith saw his mother’s tennis shoes and swam toward her. He tried turning around her body, which was face down in the water, and sought help from people on a nearby boat. When he failed to get their attention, he swam to their boat and remained there until the storm passed. He never saw his mother’s body again.

Mr Farquharson said his wife could not swim. He speculated that she drowned.

Though DNA swabs were taken from Mr Smith, no match was found.

For her part, Mrs Caintil testified that her husband did not heed her warning to evacuate the Pigeon Peas along with her and their son.

She said she left him in the shantytown and went to Murphy Town the day before the storm struck and stayed with her cousin. Her experience there was harrowing, she said, because their house collapsed.

She said she walked among dead people while searching for her husband in the Pigeon Peas the day after the storm.

Click here to read more at The Tribune

News date : 04/15/2021    Category : Hurricane, Accident/Emergency, Court, Tribune Stories

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