Flat bridge crash survivour Jermaine Scott was glorified as the first survivor to have returned and express his gratitude to divers who have been saving people’s lives for years, following a number of accidents at the Rio Cobre River in St. Catherine.
Roasaine ‘Chupsy’ McLaughlin and Dwayne ‘Lizard’ Stapleton were the two unsung heroes who saved young 28-years-old Scott’s life on the day of his horrific incident at Flat Bridge. Scott, along with some of his family members yesterday surprised the heroes with tokens and a heart-filled gratitude for their selfless services.
‘Lizard’ who said he braved the dreaded waters with an injured arm was unable to express how he felt as he stated that many survivours that they have assisted, promised to return but that never happened.
“Whole heap a people lives mi save but a di first inna mi life from we deh here a save people somebody come back and look fi we. Mi just haffi say Jah, Jah, God! Mi can’t believe it, it hard to explain. But it is a good moment fi we right now because dem come back come look fi we. If dem did come and nuh give we dollar, mi would be happy same way, trust mi…it mek wi feel like somebody” Stapleton gratefully explained.
Scott who was involved in a recent car accident at Flat bridge, recollected the happenings in an interview yesterday, when he went to thank the ‘hero’ divers for saving his life.
“I wasn’t speeding or anything, but when I reached close to the bridge there was a car parked so I went around it and I couldn’t make the lock, so I had to take it deep, and I drop in the pothole and the tyre blow out and I panicked because I know it’s Flat Bridge,” Scott recalled.
He further outlined the terrifying events as to how he escaped a near death experience and how the two unsung heroes Roasaine ‘Chupsy’ McLaughlin and Dwayne ‘Lizard’ Stapleton rescued him.
“As it was going over, I just see my life ending and I see my families and friends flashing in front of me at once. But is like I hear a voice telling me not to give up because it is not my time yet. I tried to pull the door and I realised that I was wearing the seatbelt, and then I realised that my chain was tangled up in the seatbelt and I had to burst the chain,” Scott stated while glancing and gesturing to the area where the incident occurred.
The horror worsens for Scott as the vehicle began to sink and he could only use ‘a voice’ he recalled hearing, as the motivation to pull himself through the car window, battling the water and blisters as he climbed to the top of the car. He was then greeted by a louder ‘outside voice’ telling him to jump. It was the voice of one of his saviours, Chupsy.
“Him seh just ‘jump bredda!’, and mi a say ‘mi can’t swim’. And him jump in the water and mi jump to him, but the way mi a panic is like mi a bring him down suh him have to let mi guh, and mi start go back down in the water again. Mi feel like supn’ [something] a pull mi down but mi fight it to come up, and mi all start take in water. Thank God for Lizard who come from backway and kick away my legs dem, hold mi by my neck and pull mi out along with Chupsy,” Scott recollected in detailing his survival story.
The ‘hero diver’, Lizard, recounted his version of the story and also highlighted that the other diver, Chupsy, could’ve lost his life during the whole ordeal.
“We were actually sitting right up there and wi see di car a come dung, and lick wa pothole dehso and wi hear di tyre blow out, likkle bit after, di car inna di wata. Same time Chupsy a come affa wa bus and mi see Chupsy chuck off inna di wata and di general [Scott] did already come out and deh pon di car top aready suh mi seh Chupsy have it govern. All of a sudden mi see Chupsy a back off and mi a seh why Chupsy a back off? And same time…mi just chuck off and grab him [Scott] and kick weh him two foot dem backway and [him] just float pon him belly and come out addi wata,” Lizard stated.
“When mi tek a stock, Chupsy said him [Scott] was too heavy and him a drown him. The way him approach Chupsy, him approach Chupsy wrong and Chupsy approach him wrong to suh dat cudda cause all Chupsy life at the same time,” the unsung hero further explained.
SCOTT’S FAMILY EXTREMELY THANKFUL
Scott’s mother, Ionie Hylton-Goulbourne, who resides overseas, could not join the family in person to thank the divers but she expressed her sincere gratitude to them virtually, via a video call during the interview. She stated that despite knowing her son is alive, she cried for days.
“Thank you for saving my son. I really appreciate it a lot…I cried for days even though I know that my son was alive and still can’t come to my senses that my son nearly lost his life. Thanks to you for the helping hand that you gave…and big up, big up, big up to Lizard fi help him…big up unuself every time,” expressed Goulbourne.
Scott’s sister, Denesh Scott also expressed a great sense of gratitude to the divers and echoed the mother’s sentiments of how extremely appreciative the family felt.
”I really appreciate what they did for my brother…when I got the call from my sister the day…and she said his car went over Flat Bridge, my heart skipped a beat! Feel like mi couldn’t breathe but when she seh him alive, is like me come alive. We came here today to show Lizard and Chupsy some appreciation and give them a small token that we put together as a family, to show them how much we really appreciate both a them but it doesn’t ends here because we are coming back! That is how grateful we are!” She exclaimed.
Additionally, Goulborne encouraged the divers to continue providing such great service to the country and the Jamaican people despite not getting any assistance from the Jamaican government, as there will be a greater reward.
“Thanks be to God bredda! God put unu dung deh fi a reason and if man nuh reward unu…God ago reward unu. So just hold di faith and continue do what unu a do, don’t give up [because] unu naah do it fi no government nor nobody, unu a do if fi di people of Jamaica and the love of God. So big up ununself…the bigger portion a come,” she declared, as the hopeful ‘Lizard’ clinched his hands together and looked on the videoed call while nodding in response.
The divers lamented that they have made several pleas to the government for gears, life jackets/swim wears and other items to assist with their continuous efforts to save lives but until now, there have not been any response.
Denesh Scott also shared the divers’ appeals in reaching out to seek help from the government.
“I just want to say to the government, if you guys can just please provide some gears [and] equipment for them because they are human beings too and anything can happen to them when they go in the water. So if you could just fund them some…gears that could assist them in saving other people’s lives. I’m pleading to the government, if you could just come down here and give them a visit, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it,” the sister pleaded.
IMPACT OF THE CRASH
Jermaine further added that he is just thankful to be alive despite receiving some injures to his back and neck as a result of the crash.
He also explained the psychological and mental trauma it has caused him but he highlighted that this will not stop him from driving through the gorge or across the Flat Bridge.
“Every time I wash my face I remember how the water was over it. I am just thankful for Chupsy and Lizard who saved my life because without them I would have drowned,” said Scott.
The Flat Bridge area is prone to several accidents, the most recent of which occurred on June 8th, leaving one woman dead and 13 other people injured. Police reports stated that the incident involved the collision of a Toyota Hiace bus heading towards Bog Walk and a Toyota Fielder heading towards Spanish Town. Both vehicles collided and the Toyota Hiace bus was plunged into the Rio Cobre River; all injured occupants were then taken to the Linstead hospital to receive medical assistance.
However, there have been several calls to the National Works Agency’s Communication Manager, Stephen Shaw, to conduct the necessary roadworks in that area and fix the potholes along the roadway leading to the bridge, which seemed to be the cause of numerous accidents in the area.
Mckoy’s Senior Writer- Natasha Williams
Credit: The Jamaica Star