A five-year-old girl, sleeping in her bed around midnight on Saturday, was pinned and crushed to death when an Itae Palm tree, brought down by strong winds, fell on her parents’ home at Freeman Street, East La Penitence, smashing the one-bedroom dwelling house and injuring other family members, including her parents and a one-year old baby.
Dead is Tamicia Hackett, a pupil of East La Penitence Nursery School. Others injured and rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital were her father, Junior Hackett, her mother, Tamika Hope, and their other children, Kelly Ann, 6; Richie, two; and one-year old Julius. Tamicia, who was born in Trinidad was living at the house with her parents and siblings for about the last four years.
When the tree fell, Tamicia, her sister Kelly Ann, and younger brother, Richie were sleeping at the top of the double bunk bed, while their parents and one-year-old Julius slept at the bottom.
The girls recalled that when the tree hit the Hackett’s house, the children at the top were the first to feel the impact since it smashed the roof and pinned the bed down. Kelly Ann was lashed by a branch and pitched off the bed, landing in a corner of the room. Bereaved relatives said they did not immediately detect any external injuries to Richie’s body, but he too was thrown out of the bed and late yesterday was complaining of pains. His father too, was complaining of experiencing excruciating pains, even after they had been treated at the Georgetown Public Hospital and sent home.
The parents, on the bottom bunk, were both pinned in their bed and unable to get out, while the baby Julius, who was also trapped, was cushioned only by his father’s shoulder.
Inconsolable, Brittney and Tamara who live with their parents in a house alongside the one that came down, painfully related their ordeal as they tried in vain to get the cooperation of the police at 911.
“We called the police on 911, over and over again and tried to tell them that a tree fall on the house and we family get trapped. But every time we call, they just hang up on us. If you see how much calls we mek to 911 from my phone,” the girls tearfully lamented.
They said that after the tree fell on the house, they began hysterically screaming for help. Neighbours living in Freeman Street in the south, and East La Penitence in the north came out of their beds and offered assistance, but it was a harrowing ordeal. “The place was dark, dark; pitch black and rain was falling. We hearing them crying out in pain, but we couldn’t find everybody,” they said. Relatives were eventually able to find the persons in danger, with the help of torchlights and a 12-volt battery and a bulb which neighbours brought. The last person found was Tamicia. She was pinned under the tree trunk, lying in a pool of blood, with her head crushed and buried into her pillow.
The Hacketts said they said they were not aware that the fire department carries out functions of ‘search and rescue’ in times of such disasters, or they would not have wasted time calling the police over and over again. They would have alerted the Fire Department within minutes. But they are thanking both entities for showing up.
Meanwhile, perturbed relatives and other residents in the neighbourhood recalled that those trees, towering over buildings, have always posed a problem for them, and recounted at least four incidents in which persons were injured or had their homes destroyed by the trees. One tree fell on a resident, Rita Da Silva and broke her hip; a seven-year- old child, whose mother’s name was given as Joan Junor, was hit by a branch and is now brain-damaged; and two other houses were also damaged.
Residents said that they have begged the City Council ad nauseam to send workers to help them fell the trees which continue to pose a serious threat to their properties, lives and limbs. However, they never received help, and even though an innocent life has now been taken, there is still no assurance that council will cut the trees. They are now taking their appeal to the Mayor of Georgetown, Mr. Hamilton Green, through this medium, to get some relief from a very stressful situation.
Meanwhile, having lost their entire home, and a family member, the couple and their three surviving children are now homeless and have other needs. Now without even a bed in which to sleep, they yesterday turned to the home of the children’s grandparents for temporary shelter, but psychologically dread the very thought of returning to the spot, even if there is an offer to rebuild the house.