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Community grieves for accident victims (with CNC3 video)
A community banded together yesterday to say their final goodbyes to 28-year-old Haydee, eight-year-old Shakira and seven-year-old Akasha (Ruthie) Paul at the Laventille Open Bible Church. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar sat among the congregation as Sea Lots residents, friends and family members joined together to mourn the family, who lost their lives on Sunday when a Toyota Corolla driven by a police officer ran into them while returning from the Central Market.
As early as 12.30 pm, mourners began filling the church’s pews and by the start of the ceremony at 1 pm the church and the balcony were packed. The caskets bearing the bodies of Haydee, Shakira and Akasha were placed in a row, with Haydee between her daughters. The Rev Junior Bedeau, who ministered to the family, recalled his many interactions with Haydee and her daughters.
Bedeau described Paul as a little aggressive, but a mother who loved her children. He recalled the hunger the children often experienced. Becoming emotional during his tribute to the family, Bedeau asked, “Fathers, where are you?” He called on fathers to “stick to their children.” A student of Nelson Street Girls’ RC paid tribute to her fallen schoolmates through poetry.
Haydee’s cousin Allison Paul-Hill delivered the eulogy and said despite all that was said of her cousin and the choices Haydee made, she celebrated her life. She recalled Haydee “grew up in a good home” and “was brought up to know the Lord.” Paul-Hill said she knew the family was in a better place “where kings and queens are not worthy to enter.”
In delivering his sermon, the Rev Desmond Austin spoke of “fatherlessness” and reinforced Bedeau’s call for fathers to be a part of families. He said there was a darkness over the country. Equating the Sea Lots with biblical Nazareth, Austin said people believed nothing good would come out of Nazareth but he believed good would come out of Sea Lots, and assured the grieving community their best days were yet to come.
“Out of adversity there is opportunity and out of Sea Lots shall arise a generation,” he said. Austin called for a homework centre to be built there. Speaking to the media after the service, Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson said the officer who had driven the police vehicle that knocked down the Paul family had been suspended. He refused to say whether it was with or without pay. Richardson said police had been assigned to the area to help residents and other people in Pioneer Drive to cross the highway.
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