Mark Dennie defies death a second time
For at least a second time, Mark Dennie has come out on the winning side of an encounter with death.
Seven years ago, Dennie, a boat captain, rowed ashore to Puerto Rico, after drifting for 10 days on the high seas, and last Friday, he survived an assassinâs bullet to the head.
The night of July 21 began like many others for 54-year-old Mark and his family. After closing his shop at Rose Place, Kingstown at about 10:30, Mark, his common-law wife, Christiana Cyrus and their three children, Markchris, 9, Marlia, 7, and Mark Jr, 2, piled into Markâs Suzuki Escudo for the 10-minute drive to their home at Great House, Lowmans Leeward.
Mark brought his vehicle to a stop at his customary parking spot in a clearing in the bushes, just above the steep driveway leading to his house. The family had started to get out of the vehicle, with Mark lifting a sleeping Marlia, when a lone gunman jumped out of the darkness, shooting Mark in his face.
The bullet went in one cheek and came out the other.
âBy the time Mark lifted Marlia up and raised up his head, there comes the bullet. We didnât see anybody. So, he (Mark) thought she got shot too. Because she started screaming and a lot of blood,â a still shaken Christiana told SEARCHLIGHT on Saturday.
Christiana said at first, she did not realize Mark had been shot or even that the shot had been fired close to their vehicle. It was only when she heard Mark speak to the gunman that she realized what had happened.
âJust so you shoot me, in front my children? What I do you? I donât trouble people,â Christiana said Mark shouted.
âSo, I turn back now, in the vehicle, because I was coming out, when I look, I see the guy with the gun, trying to get out the rest bullets, but the gun like it jam,â she related.
According to Christiana, it was at that point that Mark grabbed the gunmanâs hand, twisting it, while using his other hand to blow the horn of his vehicle to alert the neighbours. Christiana said during the ordeal, the gunman said nothing and made no demands. âThat is why I think he came not to rob, but to kill,â said the traumatized woman.
âHe didnât point the gun at anyone else or ask for anything.â
Markchris, the coupleâs oldest child together, told SEARCHLIGHT that when he realized what was happening, he tried to help. âI jump in the trunk to look for a cutlass or spanner to try lash him, but I didnât find anything, and when I came back out, he did done gone,â said the youngster, with a dejected look on his face.
Christiana said after blowing the horn for a while, Mark let go of the gunman to turn his attention to his children. The man, who was wearing a hoodie and a cowboy hat then fled the scene.
A neighbour then drove Mark, who was bleeding profusely, to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, where he was in stable condition up to press time yesterday.
Police are treating the incident as an attempted murder and, in a release, said investigations are ongoing.
Christiana, who says she has been in a relationship with Mark for about 14 years, said nothing like this has ever happened to her before. She said she considers what happened last Friday night a wake-up call for her partner.
âI usually talk to Mark and encourage him to change over his life. So many things have been happening and God has been so good, on his side. When he was out on the sea water, he made a lot of promises to God, that he would give his life to him, and he just come back and live the same old life. I think this is a wake-up call for him. It is a wake-up call. He didnât have to be alive today. God spared his life for a reason and a purpose. He is the one to see it and to know it. I can only talk to him. At the end of the day, it is his choice, his decision.â
She, however, said Mark, a father of six, is a good person, very helpful and kind and no one has anything bad to say about him.
Dr Michael Dennie, who was at Rose Place when SEARCHLIGHT visited, said his first cousin Mark has the capacity to think and act under extreme duress in a way that allows him to survive the most difficult of circumstances.
â…It wasnât simply luck that he survived. Luck is always part of it, but he fought back with a bullet to the face and a child in his arms and one hand on the horn.
âThat is a level of cognitive sharpness under extreme duress. This is the thing that they train soldiers to do. This is the kind of skill and psychological strength that he displayed when he was at sea, facing the elemental force of the ocean. Here he was facing the evil of man. In both cases, he never wavered in his psychological strength,â Dr Dennie said.
He said Markâs doctors have described the trajectory of the bullet a medical miracle.
âThe bullet travelled on a trajectory that missed the brain, missed the eyes, missed the chin, missed the mouth, in short it missed every structure in the face where it would have killed him or permanently shattered his face.â
In 2010, Mark and two other fishermen rowed ashore to Puerto Rico after drifting at sea for 10 days. During this period, they drank their own urine, ate raw fish, fought depression, battled lightning and thunderstorms, and still managed to survive to tell their tale.
Mark may, in fact, have faced death once before that. In 1991, he was aboard a fishing vessel that encountered difficulties and overturned. Luckily, the men were able to sit on top the overturned boat and then swim ashore to Mustique.