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Grieving mom wants answers

Girl, 5, drowns in pool after swim class
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Jemilia Forde, mother of five-year-old Jemimah Agard (inset), is comforted by Alisha Richardson, left and Porsha Lewis, right, at her home after learning of the child’s death yesterday. Agard, a pupil of Sharon’s Nursery School, Woodbrook, drowned in the YMCA pool in Port-of-Spain after a swimming class. PHOTO:ABRAHAM DIAZ

Two children are now dead after they both drowned in separate instances between yesterday and Sunday. One of the two children, Jemimah Agard, five, drowned moments after a swimming lesson at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) pool at Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain. Her mother, Jemilia Forde, and family are now seeking answers form those responsible for supervising the child during the activity. According to police reports, Agard, of Rose Hill, Laventille, a pupil of Sharon’s Nursery School, Woodbrook, was part of a class which went to the YMCA for swimming lessons between 9 am and 10 am. After the class ended and the children went to change, little Jemimah reportedly asked to use the toilet and was allowed to do so. After some time the teachers noticed the child missing and began searching for her. 


She was found at the bottom of the pool in the deep end and was fished out and given cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before being rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where she died. In a brief interview with CNC3 yesterday, a relative of the child, Psyche Baptiste, said doctors tried to everything they could for over 20 minutes to revive her but were unsuccessful. 
She said a teacher told her the children were out of the pool and Jemimah went to use the washroom. She said no one was sure if the child entered the pool before she went to the bathroom as she had defecated in the pool. Baptiste added: “Nobody thought to look in the pool and when they did look in the pool they found her at the bottom of the pool.“She turned five on May 2. That could have been anyone’s child, even mine. She was her mother’s only daughter, right now her mother thinks she has nothing to live for.” 


She said the family had been offered counselling but she said they hoped there were closed circuit cameras to capture what happened so the family could at least have closure. She described the child in one word, “loving”, adding that the family’s life would no longer be the same. “We want answers. What happened? Why was she left alone to go to the washroom unsupervised? No answer could suffice, at least we should get closure,” she said. In the second death, 23-month-old Kriston Obadele Gonzales died after he wandered into a man-made pond in the family’s yard on Sunday. (See other story)


Speaking at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, yesterday, relatives of the child, who wished not to be identified, told the media the boy ran out the house when a door was left open and went into the pond. The relatives said around 1.45 pm no one had noticed the child had wandered outside. They added that none of the children at the Alexis Street, Mayaro, home was allowed in the pond. “He was a very nice child, the most loving thing you would ever meet, very intelligent. His parents couldn’t come today. They couldn’t handle it. He was the first and only boy with five sisters,” the relatives added. 


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