It’s been almost one week since lifeguards Hollis and Shireen Valdez were murdered at their Rincon, Las Cuevas home and fellow lifeguards are yet to receive an offer of counselling from the Ministry of National Security.
Saying the lifeguards operating at the Maracas Bay and Las Cuevas beaches are a small, close-knit group who have been acutely affected by the sudden loss and the circumstances which led to the deaths, Anthony Paul yesterday said they were all traumatised in some way.
Hollis, 41 and Shireen, 40, were shot dead at their home on July 29 by 34-year-old Franklyn Clement, who had been involved in an on/off-again relationship with Shireen for several years.
Clement’s decomposing body was found along a hiking trail in Rincon on Monday.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Clement, the National Union of Government and Federated Workers shop-steward for the Maracas Bay section, said the loss was particularly painful for him, as they all trained together.
“We came into the lifeguard service at the same time. This has shaken the entire lifeguard service. It was a big, big shocker for all of us. And I thought the ministry would have sent up a counsellor to give some kind of support to the workers, but we haven’t seen anything like that happening or taking place. Everybody here does live like family.”
Noting the severe lifeguard shortage currently existing, Paul agreed the deaths would place additional stress on the resources at the Las Cuevas beach—which is where the couple was assigned.
Unable to speak about the resources at that facility, however, Paul said while they continue to operate with less than optimum manpower capacity, they are making the best of a situation the ministry is aware off.
He said last weekend’s roster had eight people assigned to work and the coming weekend has six, adding with some out on vacation, it just was not ideal. A total of 21 lifeguards rotated on a two-shift system are currently assigned to Maracas Bay.
“We have seven posts to man at Maracas and we are looking at two lifeguards to a post…plus when Tyrico was operating, we used to send two lifeguards over there,” Paul said.
As a result of the acute staff shortage and dilapidated conditions of the lifeguard facilities at Tyrico, that beach has been without a lifeguard service for more than two and a half years.
Despite this, beachgoers continue to flock there and Paul cautioned, “Anybody bathing at Tyrico continues to do so at their own risk.”
Meanwhile, beachgoers to Maracas Bay are advised that due to ongoing industrial action by the lifeguards, they only operate from 10 am to 12 noon on a Saturday and Sunday.