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Dad dies trying to save son

Maracas Beach tragedy
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Lifeguards, assisted by other beachgoers, help to take Phillip Babwah to an ambulance at Maracas Beach on Monday. Babwah (inset) was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO

Family man Phillip Babwah sacrificed his life as he dived into the rough Maracas Bay waters when he heard his daughter-in-law Wendy Jairam scream for help and saw his 25-year-old son Ronnie struggling to stay afloat. However, the heroic attempt by Babwah, the father of two, led to his own death, as he drowned after strong currents pulled him underwater on Monday.



His family was among scores who took advantage of the public holiday for a beach outing. The Claxton Bay family had planned a day of sea, sand and bake and shark. Now Babwah’s widow, Naranganie, vows never to take her family back to the beach. Babwah, a supervisor at United Engineering Services Ltd, Point Lisas, died before reaching the Port-of-Spain General Hospital. “I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it,” Jairam said as she fought back her tears at the family’s School Trace home yesterday.



The Babwahs would have celebrated the 25th anniversary of their marriage this October and Phillip would have turned 50 on July 25. Now all Naranganie has are memories. “He was a loving father, husband, brother. He was everything to everybody. I will remember him spending all his time with me going to the garden, doing the housework, doing everything together,” Naranganie said. Babwah’s mother, Violet, said she was still in shock, as she saw her son leave home a healthy and happy man.


“I never expected my child to go. I cannot come to accept it, because he left here as a healthy person. He stood right here and said, ‘Grams, I am going, eh.’ I said, “‘Ok, safe ride,’ and they went,” she said.



Fateful morning at Maracas

Naranganie said the family reached Maracas Bay around 8.30 am and after taking a short dip, they decided to return to shore because  the water was cold and rough. “All four of us went in the water to bathe and I told my husband I was feeling cold, so I came back out. “When I looked back at Ronnie and Wendy to tell them to come out, I saw they were going further. I told Phillip to call them, don’t let them go in further. 


“The current was pulling them and when the wave pushed them in, they kept going under.” After the family called out for help, she said, two surfers went into the water with their boards and Babwah followed. But by the time these good samaritans rescued Ronnie and Wendy, by putting them on the boards, her husband had already gone underwater. Naranganie said, “I ran to get to the lifeguards but I could not see any. I went to look at another station and by the time they brought my husband out I saw that a lifeguard came. 


“The lifeguard helped us a lot, but when they came, Phillip was already out of the water and I gave him CPR. There were two doctors on the beach. They helped a lot until the ambulance came and took him to the hospital.” She said it was the first time in four years the family had gone to the beach. Her husband was an average swimmer. “My son told me, ‘Ma, let us go to the beach. Let us go and take a little dip, and come back before 2 pm.’


“He had to go to work for 3 pm at Petrotrin. We cut up sweetbread, I took some soft drinks and water and I said we will buy bake and shark,” she said.



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