ALTHOUGH he did laudable deeds without any expectations during his 37 years, former Point Fortin mayor Francis Bertrand said Otis Morrison’s heroic effort to save the life of a child, while unknowingly sacrificing his own, should not go unrewarded.
At Morrison’s funeral service on Thursday, Bertrand called for a national award to be conferred posthumously on the man described as a hero by his family, community, pastor and Tahira Checkley, who is alive today because of his gallantry.
Bertrand’s call was supported by mourners at Morrison’s funeral at the Evangelical Fundamental Spiritual Baptist Church on Thursday.
Bertrand said he knew it may be too late for consideration for this year’s national awards ceremony, but asked for the committee looking into awards for bravery and gallantry to consider what Morrison did to qualify him for an award in 2023.
Morrison died on Emancipation Day, while rescuing Checkley, 11, of Marabella, after she got into difficulties at Clifton Hill Beach. Morrison was on the beach with his wife, Keishallene Lewis-Morrison, Kallie, one of their two daughters, and one of Keishallene’s sisters.
While there were hundreds of people in the water, when Morrison heard Checkley’s cries for help, he rushed to save her. After getting her to safety, he himself got into difficulties. By the time other beachgoers realised and pulled him out of the water and tried to resuscitate him, it was too late.
His mother, Christine Morrison, said if there had been lifeguards at the beach, her son would be alive today. Other family members echoed the same sentiment and MP Kennedy Richards Jr, said while Clifton Hill beach was one of the calmest, it was something he would look into.
At the funeral, Bertrand said while he was mayor and councillor for the district in which Morrison and his family lived, he had started this process.
It had stopped, but he pledged to continue making representation for lifeguards at the beach in collaboration with those in authority.
One of the officiating priestsl, Pastor Franklin C Howard, called on Bertrand to use his political influence to continue the fight for the people of Point Fortin and address some of the local pressing issues such as public safety.
Howard said, “Everywhere else benefit, but Point Fortin has to wait.”
He said the Point Fortin constituency has been unwavering in its support for the People’s National Movement (PNM), but: “We are the last to get anything.
“I want to tell those in authority, when you do wrong my God will deal with them. I am asking you, please,” he told Bertrand, “Don’t let Him (God) do that.
“Tell those people up there, they need to see about the children down here. They need to see about the children in Point Fortin, and when I say children, I mean all of us.
“I want whoever get into authority to get this thing passed. Their silence is deafening. The time is now. We want joy to come in the morning.
"We want lifeguards and much more than that. We want you to take care of our people,” he said.
Pastor Osmond Phillip,who also officiated, said Morrison died doing a charitable deed.
“Let his act of heroism resonate in our souls so we can look out for each other.”
Brother Eric Danglade appealed for the heroism Otis Morrison displayed during his lifetime not to die with him.
“All of us can be heroes while we are alive. There are two kids and their mother who need us to be heroes,” he said, in reference to Morrison’s two daughters and wife.
“We would be failing them if we did not look out for them. We have to continue what Otis started.”