Family members are still trying to come to terms with the tragic deaths of 15-year-old Kharisha Thompson and 19-year-old Chrislon Walters over the weekend, even as condolences continue to pour in.
Thompson, a 15-year-old pupil of Scarborough Secondary School, and 19-year-old Chrislon Walters of Argyle drowned at the Argyle waterfall, when a birthday lime turned tragic.
Speaking with Newsday on Monday, Thompson’s stepfather, Jason Thomas, as he consoled his wife Isha Gray-Thomas,said: “She move fast. She little brother waving she, she en even turn around, she was busy.”
Asked if she was accustomed going to the Fall, Thomas said no.
“We don’t send her anywhere. Home by me is school, if we going out together, we come home together, we going on the beach or whatever together and come back together. We try to get her to hit the books, which she was stubborn because she wants to be on phone,” he said.
However even as he recalled the incident, Thomas said they never got a phone call, they were told what had happend by a family member in Trinidad.
“We weren’t notified… Is her (mother's) sister all the way in Point Fortin see it on the phone and call.
“You going but you don’t want to go, and the faster you walk is the longer the walk. When you actually reach… really wasn’t a nice sight to see,” Thomas said.
People are now calling for warning signs to be put up, but Thomas thinks this won’t help.
“Yes, you could tell people what signs to look out for but the young people and them these days, they just want to enjoy themselves. They won’t pay attention to the sign like the older folks,” he said.
Kharisha’s father, Khari Thompson said he remained hopeful until he saw her body on the ground.
“I haven’t watched the news, listened to the radio or even read the papers.
“This shock me so much… but I didn’t want to give up any hope until I went there and saw my daughter lie down there. I went there thinking she would have been alive but…” he said.
He said people from the THA and other well-wishers had been visiting his home and praying for him.
Contacted for comment, a spokesman for the Argyle waterfall committee said that while the board is yet to meet, the board, management and staff sent their deepest condolences to the families.
“Although not being ticketed guests at the falls every life is a cherished one and we mourn their passing.
“This tragedy has left the entire staff and villages by extension in grief. We pray for comfort to all their friends and family in this very difficult time,” she said, reminding all visitors to the falls to "seek the services of our trained tour guides to facilitate the Argyle Waterfall Experience.”
Residents of the area are traumatised.
One resident, Delmond Edwards, said: “Indeed, it’s a difficult situation for the families, friends and the community to cope with. We may not understand the will of God sometimes, but I want to give thanks to the God and the first responders for saving the other six kids and allowing them another chance at life. I also want to extend condolences to the affected families, and I am asking everyone to pray for them in this difficult time.”
Gabriella Campbell Peart said: “I cannot imagine the horror that unfolded to be for the friends and relatives of the two teenagers who drowned at the Argyle Waterfall. A simple Sunday evening outing turned into tragedy. I pray that the friends and relatives of Chrislon and Kharissa find strength and comfort in the Lord. My heart aches.”
The Scarborough Secondary School Alumni Association in a press release said it joined the rest of the country in offering condolences to Thompson’s family and friends.
It said Kharisha, who was a Fifth Form Sosa student at the Scarborough Secondary School, “will be remembered for her kindness and jovial personality.”
The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) through the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development has begun providing counselling for the families and classmates of the drowned teenagers.
So says, THA Chief Secretary and Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy Kelvin Charles.
In a press release on Monday, Charles said: “We in the THA recognised the gravity of the situation and felt it necessary to act expeditiously, to provide some level of comfort to those affected by this tragic incident. We have mobilised counsellors and social workers who started to engage the families and classmates of the deceased.”
The release said Charles visited the communities of the deceased on Sunday, returning again on Monday to visit their homes.
He is urging all citizens to continue praying for and supporting the families, loved ones and surviving friends of Thompson and Walters, “as they go through this very emotionally challenging period.”
Also in a press release, the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) party said, “There are no words which can bring comfort to those grieving the youngsters’ untimely deaths," adding that psycho-social support should be given as quickly as possible to all who were connected to the tragedy and needed support.
The party also is urging those responsible for safety and security concerns at the tourism site to act with dispatch to address those issues, to minimise the likelihood of future incidents.
“We will do all within our power to provide the necessary support that the respective families need.
We are cognisant that there is little that can be said or done to ease the pains being experienced by the affected families and the village of Argyle. No words are eloquent enough to bring sufficient comfort. No action thoughtful enough to erase the hurt. In this terrible moment, all we truly have is each other.
“We prayer that the love of family and village brings comfort, and that this tragedy reminds us all of the importance of loving each other and demonstrating genuine care for our neighbours.
Additionally, they are calling for support for the teenagers who escaped death.
“The relevant state agencies must step forward in providing counselling to treat with the post-traumatic stress disorders that may result from the tragedy. We also encourage other friends and family to seek emotional and spiritual support if and when needed."