A South family is now distraught following the drowning of a 14-year-old boy on Guapo Beach, Point Fortin on Friday evening.
Jervon Sanchez, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, was swept under in rough waters, even as Government issued warnings to the public to stay away from beaches and rivers, as a measure to curb the spread of covid19. Schools have also been closed until April 20.
A relative said Sanchez and seven others, ages 11 to 14, headed to the beach at 11.30 am on Friday.
A 12-year-old boy who was in the group said the water was "normal" while they were there. (His guardians consented to the interview.)
"It was fun and it (Jervon's drowning) only happened when we were looking to leave and go home. He throw down on the sand and say he real cold, like he freezing. He say he going back in to rinse off but he had the ball and throw it back in the water. Is only when he went in to get it (the ball) that he start to bawl out, we could see the wave pushing him out close to the shore and then pulling him back in...but it was still too far for any of us to help him," he said.
The boy said he and the others ran to a vendor on the beach, who dove into the water with a rope and tried to reach Sanchez, however, the teenager was pulled under by strong currents.
"Other bathers began calling the ambulance and the police," said the boy. He recalled there were several people on the beach apart from his group.
He said when the police arrived everyone was told to leave. It was while his group was heading back home through a bushy track along the beach they saw Sanchez in the water.
The boy said the police were alerted and Sanchez was pulled out and someone "pumped on his chest."
"I so sorry (he) died and I learn not to go on the beach without my parents and never to go without an adult," said the boy.
Sanchez was a form one student at Cedros Composite Secondary School. His grandmother Gillian Shears said he was a "loving and willing, but often rebellious child."
"He wanted love, he wanted attention and he would come by me to eat and hang around but he was often rude and would leave to go back home upset. He never said no to me to do anything I asked around the house if I asked him, but he could get disrespectful with others," she said.
"When he went to Guapo Primary School an OJT teacher there described him as bright. She said all he needed was proper guidance. He wasn't no angel, but all that child wanted was love from the persons he felt he wasn't getting it from," she said.
Shears said Sanchez had become too much for her daughter to handle and at one time was taken to the police station to be warned. His mother had even considered placing him in a boys' institution, but didn't go through with it, she said.
Other relatives said Sanchez was often seen "all over the place." One of them said she had been "uneasy" and felt something bad was going to happen, while another relative had a dream about a coffin and "teeth loss" which they felt meant someone may die.
Newsday was told although beaches were officially closed in the north, south beaches were not, but the public was advised to stay off all beaches. Lifeguards are usually deployed at the nearby Clifton Hill beach facilities, but not at Guapo.
Point Fortin police confirmed Sanchez's death and investigations are continuing.
Earlier this week, after social media posts showed long lines of vehicles heading to the beaches, police patrolled the north coast to keep people away.
One pregnant woman said she was still practising social distancing and stayed at least 10 feet away from other bathers.
The Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) closed several beaches including Macqueripe beach, Williams Bay and Chagville. CDA police, the Carenage police and Defence Force were to conduct joint patrols. Caura River has also been closed.