A guardian angel sent from heaven. That was how 59-year-old Marabella resident Merlene Rock described Otis Morrison, 36, who gave his life to prevent her granddaughter from drowning at Guapo Beach on Monday.
"He was truly an angel. He was a guardian angel that came from heaven. Without a doubt, he died a hero. That man would forever be in my prayers," Rock said.
"It is because of him that my grandchild (Tahira Checkley) is alive today.
"God alone knows why this happened. We cannot question God."
The father of two girls, 11 and eight, Morrison lived at Salick Street, at Gonzales Village, Point Fortin,
Several people, including Morrison’s relatives and Point Fortin MP Kennedy Richards Jr, have hailed him as a hero for saving the girl, whom he did not know.
The child’s mother, who asked not to be named, said she spoke to Morrison’s family on Thursday by phone and offered her condolences. Her family plans to meet the Morrisons in person to help in whatever way they can.
The mother said she took her children and two nieces to the beach, and tragedy struck within an hour.
Her daughter later told her "something" had been pulling her into the water, and she could not feel her feet. She began to cry for help.
Morrison, who was swimming nearby, heard and rushed to help.
Without saying anything, he put her on his back to carry her to safety. Other people were alerted, and someone on a jet ski took the child ashore.
The mother was looking at them from onshore nearby.
"Everything happened very fast. They were not far in the water. I saw when the man on the jet ski took her. At the time, I did not see the other guy (Morrison)," she said.
"Then I see people brought him to the shore. They were doing CPR on him. I was crying and praying over him, telling him to stay alive."
One of the gathered men began saying Morrison had "just saved the little girl."
The mother said she then began to piece together what had happened. In hindsight, she realised she could not see Morrison because he was underwater with her daughter on his back, preventing her from drowning.
"My daughter did not see his face. All she knew is that he put her on his back and saved her. I keep seeing his face over and over in my mind, because I saw people were doing CPR on him," she said.
"We couldn’t sleep when we got home."
Morrison was taken to the Point Fortin Hospital, where he died.
While at the hospital, she got a phone number for Morrison’s relatives. But the first one she was given was a wrong number.
Morrison is believed to have drowned, but an autopsy is yet to be done.