The tragic flood that washed away a vehicle of four family members in Montego Bay is still a terrifying ongoing nightmare for the survivors who recounted the incident that took the life of 12-year-old Jennel Walters.
The raging waters that struck the vehicle when the family was travelling during Tuesday afternoon’s torrential rainfall swept away Jennel and her 68-year-old grandmother, Beryl Walters who is still missing and is feared to have shared the same fate as the child. The body of the Montego Bay High School seventh-grader was discovered near the cruise ship pier in the tourism capital.
The 71-year-old survivor Berris Walters, Jennel’s grandfather spoke with The Gleaner, explaining that Jennel, Beryl and Jennel’s aunt, Shannon Walters, were all travelling home from the Rose Heights community when they were caught off guard by the flood, which quickly trapped them along the Westgate main road.
The elderly man said that due to the high water on the road, they had to stop near the Anglican church which is where the water struck the car, flooding the inside of the vehicle and washing it down against the banking.
“Di water come and flood up di car….and wash it down against di banking and go down inna di banking and stuck and mi feel seh maybe we will alright down there, but another wata come again and spit it out,” he stated. “We wind down the window and open the door fi come out. We see some men deh across the road and we call them seh fi come help wi and dem was coming, but before dem cudda come di wata spin round the car and wash dung.”
The old man recalled that the water carried him further down the river, and he eventually managed to grab hold of the grass until some men came to rescue him.
The 25-year-old aunt, who was not carried away as far as Berris was saved by other men.
Shannon also explained that the vehicle was flipped over by the violent water and she and her father were washed out of the car. However, while she and her father were desperately grabbing ‘branches to survive, the vehicle was swept away with Jennel and Beryl.
“The car turn over, and we get wash out … . Mi haffi swim and hold on pon a branch. When me hold on pon the branch, the man dem come fi mi and take mi out,” Shannon recalled.
Clayvian Williams is one of the several men who rushed to rescue Berris. He explained that he was speaking to someone who alerted him that someone was “trapped” on the bridge, but he quickly realized the spectacle on the bridge was caused by an individual drowning in the river.
Clayvian instantly shouted for a rope when he saw the man in the water as he was stripping. They threw the rope out to Berris, who Clayvian recalled seemed to have been on his last breath, and when he was making his way across to them he started sinking.
“Mi realise seh when him come cross like him a sink so mi run cross and hold him and mi drop off cause desso deep and it’s a edge, and mi neva know cause di water high so mi drop,” he explained and stated that he had braced his back against the bank and hold the elderly man up for the others to take him.
Councillor Richard Vernon, who is the acting mayor of Montego Bay, had joined the firefighters, the police, and soldiers in the search for the missing relatives.
See the rescue of 71-year-old survivor Berris Walters below.
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