Persistent and caring Port of Spain vendors yesterday saved an eight-year-old boy from being towed away by the police while he was screaming for help in the back seat of his grandfather’s SUV.
The police’s defence is that they never saw any child in the back seat of the vehicle as it was heavily tinted.
They also said they attempted to find the driver of the vehicle before they wrecked it but to no avail.
The drama unfolded shortly after 3 p.m. on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain.
According to eyewitnesses, a black SUV had been parked along Charlotte Street near Queen Street. The owner had gone into a nearby grocery while he left his grandson, Nathaniel Jack, in the back seat of the vehicle.
Nathalie Johnson, a vendor, said she along with several other vendors noticed when one of the regular white coloured wreckers began approaching the car in a bid to tow it.
As the SUV was being hoisted she said the vendors along with some passersby began telling one of the police officers inside that there was a child in the back seat.
As the vehicle was still being hoisted several more vendors and passersby now began shouting at both the police and the wrecker driver that there was a child in the back seat of the vehicle and he needed to get out.
Johnson, along with the other vendors, claimed the police officer popped his head out of the wrecker and told them, “We go deal with that at the station,” following which he told the driver to go ahead and tow the SUV.
The vendors said that by this time they began openly cursing both the police and the wrecker driver as well as pounding on the doors of the vehicle, begging for the child to be released.
They claimed the wrecker driver almost ploughed through them as he made his way south along Charlotte Street.
Nigel Belgrave who was a passerby saw the entire drama as it unfolded.
He said he saw when the boy opened the door to the SUV and as the wrecker stopped at the corner of Independence Square and Charlotte Street, he then jumped out and began running.
Some of the vendors went after him and brought him to the Express’ Independence Square office.
The Express called the boy’s father, Irving Jack, and within minutes he arrived at the office.
He had no comment about what happened but said that he was glad his child was not lost or injured. He also thanked the vendors profusely.
The vendors’ story, however, differed from the police’s version of events.
According to the police communications unit, police were on duty in downtown Port of Spain when they had cause to wreck a vehicle which was parked within nine metres of the corner of Queen and Charlotte Streets.
The police said they complied with the “normal procedures” of towing a vehicle in that they walked into a nearby grocery and asked for the driver of the car but no one came out.
The police also said the windows of the SUV were heavily tinted and they were unable to see inside.
They said they then began towing the vehicle and while driving along Charlotte Street they saw people running along the side of their wrecker.
Thinking it was a usual thing for people to be chasing wreckers they continued but when they got to Independence Square a man told them there was a child in the vehicle and they stopped.
They said they checked the SUV again and finally saw the boy fast asleep.
The police claimed a man produced identification stating he was a relative of the child and the boy was released into his custody.
One of the Charlotte Street vendors said, however, that as the boy ran out of the SUV they were the ones who caught him and brought him to the Express.
“If that boy did end up with some ‘raperman’ what would have happened,” the vendor shouted.
The Express can confirm that the boy was brought to its offices by vendors.
Police said they will be investigating this incident further.