MASIKA Wharwood can’t stop thinking about the final hours of her infant son’s life as he struggled against the straps of the car seat in the back of his grandfather’s vehicle, where he was forgotten for eight hours on Tuesday.
Wharwood, 31, wept yesterday, as she considered how 17-month-old Jaedon may have been tugging at his clothes, and crying out “Gra Gra”, the name he called his grandfather.
Jerricho Cudjoe, was supposed to take the child to his baby sitter, but forgot and instead drove to his jobsite at Petrotrin, Penal, locked the doors and windows and went to work on Tuesday.
“What a terrible way to go. I was wondering how he was, if he was calling “Gra Gra” or “Mama” or any of the people he knew. When he is feeling warm on a normal day he would be pulling off his clothes,” said Wharwood, at the family’s home at Old Quinam Road, Penal Rock Road.
However, Wharwood said it would also be a tragedy if Jaedon’s grandfather was held criminally liable for the death.
She also responded to public criticism that someone in the family should have asked about the whereabouts of baby Jaedon during the day on Tuesday.
Wharwood said, “People are saying what kind of parenting is this? The comments on Facebook, etc. I want to ask people how many of them send off their kids and call and ask if their child reached? If you send off a child with an adult, it is because you trust that person. Don’t judge me because you don’t know me. It is hurtful. Nobody knows the sacrifices we are making for the children.”
Jaedon, fondly called “JJ” by his family, was found by his grandfather at around 4.30 p.m, when he returned to the vehicle to head home. He found the child dead, and his screams brought co-workers and police to the scene, who also cried when they saw the dead baby.
Wharwood, who also has a six-year-old daughter, said her heart is broken over the death of her son.
“When I had my son the feeling was totally different. The love I have for him I did not want to share with any other boy child. It is hurting me inside and I feel like someone ripped out my heart. But I am not trying to think about how it happened, but about his grandfather being okay,” said Wharwood.
“I know he would not handle it well. I know the amount of guilt that he has inside, it will eat him up and we might have to end up burying two persons. I don’t want that. I cannot lose him too,” said Wharwood.
She said she is trying to be strong and make funeral arrangements, and support her husband, Fergus and her mother-in-law, Mary, because they were inconsolable.
“(My husband) keeps looking at his phone...at the videos and pictures of JJ. He is crying all the time. His mother locks herself in the room and cries. I have to be strong for them, but behind closed doors it comes out,” she said.
Wharwood said while she is trying to bear with the public criticisms regarding how the child died, she did not want her father-in-law to break down mentally or physically.
She said she visited him at the Penal Police Station on Wednesday where he has been detained since the incident.
“I went there to give the police a statement. I asked to see him and I got to talk to him briefly. I wanted to know how he was doing. He started to tell me ‘sorry’, and said he couldn’t face me before. But he lost his words and he couldn’t function ...he started to tremble and cry,” said Wharwood. “I told him I am sorry too, but I was there for him.”
Police have said that Cudjoe was eating little, but was allowed to have visitors and speak with social workers.
Wharwood said her father-in-law was a “ family-man” who would often tell people that his grandchildren were his world.
She explained that baby Jaedon lived with her husband, Fergus, and his parents at Old Quinam Road, Penal Rock Road.
Due to the demands on her job as a salesperson, she and daughter, Ainka, stay with her mother on weekdays in Marabella, and go to Cudjoe’s home on weekends.
Wharwood said the 17-month old was the pride and joy of his grandfather. “He was always telling people ‘this is my grandson’. He was very proud of his family. I am closer to him than to my own father. He is nurturing and takes care of us, he stands up for me. If I am feeling down or have a problem, I could call him and he would sort it out,” she said.
Funeral arrangements are being made for Saturday.