HAPPIER TIMES: Baby Jaedon Cudjoe is held by his mother Masika, while daughter Ainka sits on the shoulders of her father Sergus Cudjoe in a photo from the family album.

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FORGIVE ME

Distraught grandpa shared bond of love with 17-month-old Jaedon who died in his car

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

NO one may fully know what was going through the mind of Jerricho Cudjoe for him to forget his 17-month-old grandson strapped into the back seat of a car for almost nine hours on Tuesday.
But what little Jaedon Cudjoe’s family would never forget was the bond of love that Cudjoe shared with the infant boy. Whether Cudjoe will ever recover from the child’s death, is uncertain, they said.
Jaedon was found dead inside the car by his grandfather when he returned to the parking lot of his workplace at Petrotrin’s Clarke Road, Penal, facility around 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday.
When Cudjoe, 56, realised the child was in the vehicle and not responding, he let out a howl and could not stop screaming, the Express was told by a co-worker.
And when Cudjoe’s son (Jaedon’s father, Sergus Cudjoe) arrived at the scene, the grandfather prostrated himself before him and begged for forgiveness.
An autopsy performed by pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov yesterday found the child suffered for hours before dying. Alexandrov said the 17-month-old boy eventually died from hyperthermia due to extreme heat.
The temperature was expected to reach a high of 34 degrees Celsius on Tuesday but, according to Alexandrov, the temperature inside the car would have increased to 55 degrees Celsius at its peak.
Alexandrov said the high temperature would have caused Jaedon to sweat profusely before losing consciousness, and the child may have suffered seizures, intense headaches and vomiting.
Alexandrov said the child’s muscles were paralysed and his body’s pH balance was thrown off.
He said Jaedon’s organs failed as he suffocated. The infant was severely dehydrated, he said.
Jaedon’s uncle, Andell Cudjoe, told the Express the grandfather was supposed to drop his only grandson off at the baby-sitter on Tuesday. Relatives were unsure what happened after the two left the family’s home at Aquat Village, Quinam Road, Penal, that would have caused Cudjoe to forget the baby in the back seat since it was his daily routine.
Andell Cudjoe said, “He left to go to work, as he did every morning. He would usually drop off Jaedon by his aunt every day before going to work. I can’t say what happened. I don’t know if he was just absent-minded that day. I can’t say. We really don’t know what happened.”
Police said Cudjoe, who was promoted to electrical supervisor the day before the tragedy, received a call from his co-workers on Tuesday morning informing him he was needed urgently at his workplace.
Cudjoe told police he forgot the child was inside the car when he got out of the vehicle, put up the windows and locked the doors before walking away to his workplace around 7.30 a.m.
He returned to the car after 4 p.m. and found the child slumped over.
Cudjoe’s co-workers said his screams alerted the nearby Petrotrin Estate officers, who contacted the police and the baby’s parents, Sergus and Masika Cudjoe.
A co-worker said the grandfather was so inconsolable that he dropped to the ground, holding on to the feet of the child’s father and begged for forgiveness.
The scene was so horrific that police detectives cried when they saw the tortured look on the child’s face.
Andell Cudjoe said the child’s parents were distraught. The couple have a six-year-old daughter—Ainka.
Cudjoe said Jaedon was the life of the family. “He was his grandfather’s eyeball. He bought a jeep for Jaedon before he could even walk. He was spoilt rotten. On Sunday, we had a barbecue for Mother’s Day and Jaedon was walking, climbing and running like any other happy child.
“His grandfather cared for him while his parents were at work and he would take Jaedon for drives to the savannah,” he said.
Jaedon’s father is employed as a linesman at Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission, while his mother works as a jewell­er.
Andell Cudjoe said a prayer service was held at the family’s house in memory of little Jaedon on Tuesday night.
Police have impounded the black Nissan Teana car in which the child’s body was found.
Cudjoe is assisting the police with their investigation.
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