The People's National Movement (PNM) has been thrown into mourning after the death of former National Security Minister Martin Joseph.
Joseph died on January 5 while vacationing with friends in Tobago.
According to reports, Joseph was staying at the Skylark Villa, Running Ground, MtIrvine when he left with his friend George Caruth of Haleland Park, Maraval around 7 am to take a swim at nearby Grange Bay. The Guardian understands that during the swim Joseph got into difficulty, and Caruth tried to assist but failed.
Responding to calls made to the Old Grange Police Station, two officers arrived at the beach where theysaw the body floating away from the shore.
The Guardian understands, with the assistance of 17-year-old Zen Orion, PC Quamina, who was in uniform, changed his clothes, swam out and retrieved the body around 8:50 am.
District Medical Officer Dr. Kale Ferguson visited the scene, examined the body and ordered it removed to the Scarborough Hospital mortuary, pending an autopsy.
The body was identified by George Caruth and former CLFinancial director Andre Monteil, both of whom were staying at the Skylark Villa with Joseph.
PC Quamina of the Old Grange Police Station is continuing investigations.
Grange Bay is a small beach just before the entrance of the popular Mt Irvine Bay Hotel. The beach is known for its current, rough waters and huge swells. It is also frequented by surfers from all over the world. Grange Bay is not patrolled by lifeguards.
In an immediate response to the death of Martin Joseph, Deputy Political Leader and Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Orville London described Joseph's personality as unique and noted that he was the mastermind behindmany of the party's political campaigns.
"There is only one Martin Joseph to be quite honest–meticulous, professional...I think if there was one person who was responsible for structuring the campaign that would haveled to that overwhelming victory that we had in last Assembly elections it would have been Martin Joseph, but from a personal level he was private person but a good friend, a good comrade, a good colleague."
London said Joseph was responsible for many positive things in the party and by extension the country.He said Trinidad and Tobago has suffered a great loss.
THA Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary for Tourism Tracey Davidson-Celestine said the Joseph's death was a significant loss to the PNM.
Speaking to the media on the beach whereJoseph drowned, Davidson-Celestine said she was "in shock."
"I am in total shock and I am in deep mourning at this time. This is a significant loss for us within the People's National Movement and of course within all of Tobago and throughout Trinidad and Tobago. This is not something we expected at all, so I really wanted to extend deepest condolences to the PNM family at this time, all of Trinidad and Tobago and his family in this time of loss," Celestine said.
THA Secretary for Health and Social Services Claudia Groome-Duke, who was also on the scene,described Mr. Joseph as vital to the PNM.
"This is somebody who is the life blood of our organisation. At this time I really want to reach out to his family and the PNM family. I know it is a significant loss for all of us," Groome- Duke said.
Public Relations Officer for the PNM Tobago Council Dr. Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus said Martin Joseph was a key team player of the PNM. She said he was instrumental in PNM's win during the THA elections and he would be sorely missed.
"Martin Joseph was a dear friend, a colleague and key team player on Team People's National Movement and therefore he would be greatly missed and I am sure that the party will go into a period of mourning and together we would come out stronger, because we know that Martin's legacy will continue to reside within each of us," Dr. Tsoiafatt-Angus said.