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Tuesday 10 December 2019
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‘Hero Harry’: I felt like he was family

Kidnap victim rescued from precipice dies

Hunter Rooplal
Hunter Rooplal "Harry" Latchman relays the story of how he found Rudven Prout in Santa Cruz Last Friday. Latchman was saddened when he learned of Prout's death on Monday. - JEFF K MAYERS

WHAT was thought to be a hunter communicating with farmer Rooplal Latchman in the early morning last Friday, turned out to be Rudven Prout’s desperate call for help.

Prout, 56, died on Monday night around 8.30 pm, three days after he was pulled from a precipice off the North Coast Road. Prout’s autopsy is expected to be done today. Police said Prout, who told them he was kidnapped from his Real Street home on November 6, died at the Port of Spain General Hospital at 8.30 pm on Monday. He was sedated after surgery last Saturday to reduce the swelling in his brain. At his rescue he gave police a full account of what happened.

On Monday, one of his attackers – a 29-year-old man – surrendered to Sgt Sunil Bharath and other officers. He is still in custody assisting police with their investigation.

Stroude said he was kept in captivity before being thrown over the precipice. The diabetic, who Latchman said had a broken right shoulder was heard calling for help on Thursday. His faint cries we ignored until just before 6 am on Friday when Latchman, known as “Harry” by his Blazney Road, La Pastora Village, Santa Crux neighbours, was on his way to drop his son to school.

“I hear the calling and my neighbour tell me like is somebody calling for help. So I went as close as possible to where the sound was coming from but I couldn’t get to him so I tell him hold on I passing around and I went and call the police and we went up on the North Coast Road.”

Living in the area for over two decades, Latchman knew exactly where along the North Coast Road to go to find Prout, and when he did, he offered the bleeding and tired man a sip of water.

Latchman said he assured Prout that all would be ok as the search and rescue team of the Fire Service and police pulled him up 200 feet to safety. Police said Stroude, who was fitted with a prosthetic leg after an accident some time ago, suffered several broken bones from the fall including a fractured skull.

“You know when they bring the man up, it had no ambulance to take him to the hospital. I had to use my van to carry him to the Santa Cruz Health Centre and when I reach there they tell me they can’t take him, carry him to the hospital. Man, I nearly get lock up,” Latchman said, adding that eventually officials at the health centre agreed to take Prout to the hospital.

Hunter Rooplal "Harry" Latchman relays the story of how he found Rudven Prout in Santa Cruz Last Friday. Latchman was saddened when he learned of Prout's death on Monday. - JEFF K MAYERS

Latchman, 56, said he spent close to seven hours with Prout and was planning to visit him at the hospital yesterday but learned that he died.

“Hear nah when I get the call I felt like was one of my own family members that died. I went to the (Santa Cruz) police station to ask about him and everybody call me “Hero Harry” and tell me which ward he was on.

"I get a call saying he died. I feel that, because I felt like I get close to the man in that short space of time.”

Newsday visited Prout’s Real Street, San Juan home but a female relative said she was ordered by police not to speak with the media. Prout left his home in company of a man who lived at one of his rented apartments at Farm Road St Joseph last Wednesday and was next seen down the precipice. Prout, who gave police a detailed story of how he was beaten and thrown out of a car which was recorded and circulated on social media, was heavily sedated following his surgery Saturday and never fully regained consciousness.

Police, fire service and Latchman all agree that had Prout not shouted for help, he would have died where he was found and no one would have known where too look for him. A missing persons report was made some hours after he was found, police said.

Latchman said, "I find we as humans need to do better. I won't even do that to my dogs."

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