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Sosackie remembers deadly Farm River

Sosackie remembers deadly Farm River

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October 1999 – Five small students die in flood

When death visits, pain inevitably accompanies it – but when death snatches five children with one haul, excruciating pain is its bedfellow.

What unfolded on Friday, October 1, 1999, will be etched on the minds of residents in the Mesopotamia Valley for a very long time to come.{{more}}

Many will forever painfully remember that day when the heavens broke, torrential rain poured, and the Farm River overflowed, and washed away five children, the oldest not yet 11 years old.

The battered and bruised bodies of Dolleson Hamlett, 10, Jason Gibson, 10, Demani Cupid, 9, Kosankie Shallow, 7, and Zinniera Shallow, 5, all of the Mesopotamia Government School, were recovered a day or so later in the Peruvian Vale -Stubbs area.

Ermine Shallow will forever remember that day, because in one swoop she lost two of her children. Ironically, she is also very thankful, because her son, Sosaskie, who was also in the mouth of the danger, escaped, and is alive and well today.

“Of course I still remember. I still look back. I still can’t talk about it freely. Right now it is as though it is still fresh on my mind,” Ermine told SEARCHLIGHT recently.

She said that it took close to four years before she was able to walk past the bridge where the incident happened, and even now she doesn’t allow her younger children to play near a river.

“Once I see rain coming, I get to them or make sure somebody goes for them from school,” she said.

Sosackie Shallow, then 9 years old and Casewell Job, then 10, survived the horror, and SEARCHLIGHT caught up with Sosackie recently.

He remembered being in front of the other children and seeing the heavy waters and debris rushing down.

The others took refuge in a shed.

However, the force of the waters swept the shed away while he jumped on a wall and held on to a tree for dear life for close to two hours, he said, until he was rescued.

Sosackie, who went on to attend the St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua and wrote eight CSEC subjects this past June, told SEARCHLIGHT that more than anything else, that day taught him to truly appreciate life.

“I could have been gone too, so I always try to live good, try to do good things, help out people when I could,” he said with a smile.

Sosackie, who described himself as “an alright student”, and aspires to be a businessman, said that this appreciation for life helps him avoid dangerous situations.

He said over the last nine years, he has tried to stay away from trouble, and when he is not in school, he occupies himself with odd jobs to earn money for himself.

“I don’t want to be in no gang thing, no violence thing, because if I so lucky to be alive, why would I want to be in something that can make it easy to lose my life. Nah, not me and those things. I rather be by myself, work and make money,” he said frankly.

Besides the odd job as a labourer, Sosackie likes working the land, following the example of his father Lloyd Da Silva, who is a farmer.

“I do a little bit of farming. I sell my tomatoes and peppers and so on,”’ he said.

Sosackie said that he has hardly had a chance to forget how lucky he was to have survived, because whenever he goes out of line, his mother reminds him of that.

“If I give trouble or disobey, she will remind me,” he said.

Sosackie, who while in school was quite an athlete, told SEARCHLIGHT that he is determined to make his parents proud of him, and tries to be as helpful as he can.

“He is very helpful and caring, I am proud of him. He is good young man – a little troublesome sometimes, but he is turning out ok,” said his mother Ermine.

And as he remembers his brother, sister, and friends that he lost that day, Sosackie said that it taught him the invaluable lesson that no one is too young to die.

“If I hear someone telling another person that they not too young to die, I will jump in the conversation and agree, because I know that is true,” he said.

He also spared a thought for the parents of his dead friends and even his own mother, but summed it all up as an act of God.

“God put everything here and I guess he decides when to take them back.”