A call has been made for hiking organisations to made subject to State regulatory oversight.
The issue was raised yesterday by president of the Co-operative Credit Union League Joseph Remy at the funeral for hiker Richard Baird who fell to his death while returning from a hike to the Aripo waterfall on August 19. His body was found at the bottom of a precipice three days later. An autopsy revealed the father of six, of Rousillac, sustained a broken neck.
The funeral for 55-year-old Baird, a computer technician at Petrotrin, was held at the St Benedict’s RC Church in La Romaine. He was also the treasurer on the League’s board of directors and served on various committees at the level of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions.
Remy told the large gathering that the regulatory framework guiding hiking organisations should include registration and operating licences, evidence of expertise and establishment of medical, safety and security systems. “And in the event of incidents, mandatory investigations must be conducted to ascertain liability,” Remy said.
Remy questioned whether Baird’s death would be the catalyst for advocacy by his peers for State-sanctioned regulations for such events or if his death would be just another statistic to be ignored.
He said as president of the national umbrella body for credit unions in the country, he and the organisation will be failing if they leave issues like this one unattended.
“While we consider Richard to be a victim on this occasion, and sadly so, we pledge in the interest of those of us who are left behind, to pursue with our country’s leaders, the issue of legislation and practices to govern hiking with appropriate safeguards and attendant consequences for non-conformance.”
Remy said Baird was more than a friend or colleague; he was a brother, mentor, leader and a man who spent all his years “looking out for everyone”.
To the Baird family, Remy said: “Rest in the comfort that Richard certainly did his duty for his country and his people. We want to thank you for the privilege of sharing such a great life with us. He was a true co-operator and a friend. We will surely miss him and his vast contribution to the co-operative credit union movement and the quest for equity and economic and social justice.”
Many friends, colleagues and relatives paid tributes to Baird and thanked him for his contributions which, they said, enriched their lives in different ways.
Deacon Harold Woodroffe, who officiated at the funeral, recalled fond moments with his friend Baird.
The body was taken to the RC Cemetery at South Oropouche for burial.