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Monday 20 May 2019
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Honours for heroes who rescued boys from oil seep

OIL SEEP: Keron
OIL SEEP: Keron "Lizard" Frederick showis how thick the oil which Adelle Cyrus,12 and Darrel Clarke,13, were found sinking on Wednesday. PHOTO BY ANSEL JEBODH

CLAISON Hayden Honore, one of the heroes who risked his life to save two brothers – Darold and Adiel Clarke, along with their stepfather Kenneth Small, has been honoured by the boys' school.

The boys fell into an oil seep in Point Fortin, followed by their stepfather who was also trying to save them.

Honore said he was humbled by the gesture of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the Egypt Government Primary School, which honoured his heroic act during its general meeting on Wednesday evening. The PTA also recognised a young man by the name of Cassius who went to contact the boys' family after they fell into the oil seep while trying to retrieve a kite.

Several firefighters involved in the successful rescue were also honoured. They included acting fire sub officer Lester Sancho, firefighters Allen Brown, Snoop Bhagwandeen, Rydel Guerra, David Guerra, Jack Watson, Stacey Richards and auxiliary firefighter Leslie Thomas.

The officers were not present to receive their small tokens, but Honore said it was a pleasure to help save the boys.

“Thank God these two are alive,” he said at the small function at the school, which was attended by some 90 parents and teachers including Clarence Mendoza, of the National Parent Teachers Association who made the presentation, and past principal Maximum Trotman.

The boys, who are recuperating, and their mother, Frederica Hodge, were also present.

Honore, who lives in the area, recalled on the evening on Febrauary 20, the taxi he was in refused to take him to Techier and he was dropped off at the junction near the school.

“Whilst walking, going up the road, I hear, 'Help, help!' My mother used to always tell me it have douens and bucks in the back dey, but due to hunting in the area, I know it have a lake in the area and maybe something happen. I heard a familiar voice and I tell myself, like something really happening. I had my cutlass in my bag because I was going to do some work by me.

"I jump over the river and I see these two youthmen, one covered up to his face in oil, the other in shoulder height, helping to hold up the other person’s head to stay on top.”

Honore said he assessed the situation and immediately called the police and asked them to contact the fire services, “because I knew I could not help them on my own.”

While he waited for them to arrive, he cut down a tree to reach the brothers.

He explained, “I put branches around them and dig out one of the hands of one of the boys to put on top to brace himself.”

He said Small, who later came to their rescue, also got stuck and had to be rescued as well.

Secretary of the PTA Daniel George told the Newsday, “Hayden really saved them from going down under until help arrived, but his is a name you are not hearing about. He reached first to rescue the boys even before their stepfather came on the scene.

"Even when the fire officers came with their ladder, it ended up in the oil and remained there. They still had to use the same tree that he cut down to make the successful rescue.”

George said although the PTA, which was elected last November, has little funds, “We had to show our gratitude to these people who saved the lives of our students. We could not be more thankful.”

George suggested Honore should be given a national award for his gallantry and said he intends to write to President Paula-Mae Weekes to nominate him.

In thanking the firefighters, George observed, “There is only one fire truck in Point Fortin, which has to serve from Point to Icacos, Point to Erin, Point to Rousillac. If for some reason the fire officers went to one of these far areas, they would not have had a truck to reach in time to assist Honore or the Clarke brothers.

“One vehicle is not enough. We also need a new fire station in Point Fortin.”

Today, Friday, the TT Fire Association will hold a public rally in Point Fortin from 11 am, to highlight what has been described as the failure of successive governments "to deal with the poor working conditions of fire officers and the failure to rebuild the fire station in Point Fortin," said to have been shut down by the OSH agency since 2016.

George said he, Honore, other residents and NGOs will be part of the rally.

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