Given a second lease on life, 11-year-old Tahira Checkley yesterday recited a poem in honour of the man who saved her from drowning on August 1.
The child described in poetry, with a faint voice, Otis Morrison’s ultimate sacrifice to save her life at his funeral service at the Evangelical Fundamental Spiritual Baptist Church in Point Fortin.
During her touching recital, Morrison’s wife Keishallene Lewis-Morrison and daughters Kylie and Kailie were moved to tears.
Morrison, 36, went to Guapo Beach on Emancipation Day to spend time with his family before returning to work. While at the beach, however, he heard Tahira’s cries of distress and went into the sea to help her. But after the child was pulled to safety, Morrison found himself in difficulty and drowned.
In her tribute to Morrison yesterday, little Tahira’s poem described the events of that fateful day.
“My Hero - I once saw a hero through the light, who pushed the waves aside with all his might. Brave and fearless he stroked towards me, making sure I was brought to safety. Heroes walk among us but never look for glory or praise. Neither do they seek recognition for their thoughtful caring ways. A legend, A true soldier, Angel on earth, they described him to be. But in my eyes, he’s my Guardian Angel always looking over me. My hero is just an ordinary man, with limited time on earth, that was God’s plan. We say a special thank you for the heroism he displayed. A tribute to him I pay. Asking God’s Angels to escort him along his way!”
Morrison’s sister Nathalie Phillip meanwhile praised her brother’s heroics, as she recalled his passion for auto mechanics.
“Otis was a gentleman, hardworking, family man, honest and a true epitome of a leader. He was quiet, stuck to his self and worked tirelessly to ensure that his family’s needs were always met. He would work a normal two-week shift … as a mechanical engineer and the other two weeks in his garage fixing vehicles.”
Former Point Fortin Mayor Francis Bertrand said he was at the beach the day of the incident “espousing how safe it is because we don’t have any incidents on that particular beach.”
The former mayor said he later found out about the tragedy when he returned home.
“I would really hope that this opportunity, and that the powers that be, will ensure that they do things to improve public safety at that facility,” said Bertrand, in an apparent reference to Morrison’s family’s call for lifeguards to be stationed at the beach.
He said years ago, he began efforts to place lifeguards at the Guapo Beach but it was later scrapped.
Pastor Collins Howard, who officiated the service, also hoped the tragedy would propel change.
“Point Fortin is always the last to get anything. I know you still have a voice, please tell those people up there to see about the children down here, their silence is deafening. We need the people to be protected.”
Morrison was laid to rest at the Brighton Cato Cemetery at Gonzales Village, Guapo.