The grieving family of the four-year-old student, Jordaine Clarke, is refusing to believe that the child was locked inside of the vehicle for several hours and died. Members of the family presented statements to reporters and the police explaining why they believed there was more to the story than what they were being told by the school.
As the family demands answers, one of the puzzling questions that they posed was the state of the child’s clothes. Upon seeing the child’s lifeless body, members of the family are demanding to know why the child’s clothes were untidy and dirty. They say this is impossible if he was left inside the car when Thursday morning Jordaine boarded the teacher’s vehicle in clean clothes.
The father of the child, Curtis Clarke, sadly stated, “Mi baby dutty… and she (the teacher) say him nuh come out a di car.” He further questioned how a teacher could transport a group of students and not realize that one of her students were missing.
Providing more evidence that made the teacher’s claims seem less feasible, the aunt of Jordaine, Tabia, reported that only one of the boy’s shoes were found inside the vehicle. “One foot a shoes deh inna the car wit di baby,” she told OBSERVER ONLINE Friday and went on to say that they still haven’t found the other shoe.
“Di baby pants yah so dirty up,” she went on, demonstrating an area on her foot. Showing the evidence of how the child left the school, she pulled up a picture of Jordaine neatly dressed on the morning before he left home.
Tabia explained that when they arrived at the hospital she saw “Di baby dirty!”.
According to the reports, the tragedy followed after a group of students were transported to the school by the teacher around 9:00 on Thursday. The reports say that while the other children had exited the car, one of them was left behind. Hours later when his unconscious body was discovered by the teacher, the child was taken to Bustamante Hospital for Children and pronounced dead.
More accounts from Tabia detail that another aunt visited the school on the day but didn’t see the boy. When they were informed about him being missing, the child’s grandmother phoned the class teacher at 1:30 pm, which was a half-hour before the school would be closing.
Tabia said that the teacher’s response suggested that nothing was wrong. “When di granny call her (the teacher) she ago say, ‘Everting alright. We soon come,” she recalled. However, the 44-year-old grandmother waited and there was no sign of the teacher nor Jordaine.
Subsequently, the grandmother, Paula Downer, called again, and the principal answered the phone and informed her that the teacher took the boy to St. Joseph’s Hospital but she didn’t know why.
However, it was at the Children’s Hospital the family saw the lifeless body of Jordaine.
“Him dutty like di she beat him or lick him dung,” Clarke said upset, “mi nuh know weh she do him. But she say him nuh come out a di car. How him dutty?” Clarke went on to say that a four-year-old couldn’t die from being locked in a car during that period.
Clarke said he couldn’t describe how he felt about his son’s death, but he needed answers. He added that he wanted to speak to the teacher to know what truly happened. He has made several calls to the principal and all of them were unanswered.
“Right now mi confused. Mi paranoid, ’cause come like dem know wah dem a do up yah. Dat alone mi can pree… and dem wit wah gwaan,” he said sadly.
Downer explained that she used to walk with the child to school but the teacher gave her an offer to carry Jordaine to school, and she accepted. This offer was extended to several other children, which the teacher transported in the mornings.
“From one o’clock yesterday mi nuh eat, mi belly a burn mi,” the mourning grandmother stated referring to Thursday evening. She added that she got him dressed and sent him to school, giving the teacher money to buy jerk chicken for the child’s lunch. She recalled that upon arriving at the hospital the teacher told her that she thought Jordaine exited the car with the other kids, but Downer didn’t believe.
“She go again and say she think he was outside playing,” the distress woman recalled and began crying.
The grandmother, who has hypertension, is reportedly battling with the guilt of letting her grandson travel with the teacher because her daughter is blaming her and wasn’t talking to her. Downer clarified that it was only the second time Jordaine was travelling with the teacher, and she wanted to prevent him from walking so much, but now it seemed like she “send him wid di wrong person”.
Abigail Beckford, the boy’s mother who is 21-year-old, has been under the observation of relatives since the incident happened because her mental health has reportedly deteriorated.
Additionally, Downer went on to say that she had to send her daughter to stay with her sister because the mother couldn’t bear staying in the house with the boy’s things “lying around the place”, such as the boy’s bicycle in the corner of his room.
Downer also recalled the child was riding the bicycle the night before the incident and when he was done he said, “Grandma, mi a guh a mi bed now.”
Following the incident, a police investigation was immediately launched and is currently underway. While the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force confirmed the investigation, the police have not confirmed if the teacher was charged.
In the meantime, neighbours support the grieving family, and they recalled the child as quiet with a bright smile.
One elderly woman recounted telling Jay, which they all called him, hi and he would always shake his head and smile. She also said that he was “so sweet and quiet, him never give nuh trouble.”
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