The story of Sea Lots accident victim Ryan Rampersad touched many hearts, and donations of over $100,000 flowed from generous persons locally and internationally last year.
Now, there is a bitter row between Rampersad and his family and his wife, Sally Ann, over the money.
On February 24, 2013, Rampersad was injured in an accident where off-duty police officer Sherwin Legere ran over pedestrians, claiming the lives of Haydee Paul, 28, and her two daughters, Shakira, seven, and Akasha, eight.
In June 2013, the Express highlighted Rampersad’s neglect at the Port of Spain General Hospital where he was 98 per cent paralysed and covered in bed sores. This prompted immediate focus on his health care and financial support from many persons across the globe.
Rampersad, 21, was the sole provider for his wife and two children— daughter, Naomi, three, and son, Nyron, one.
Well-wishers offered prayers, dried goods, toiletries, furniture and money to Rampersad’s wife.
Persons were even willing to construct a better living area for Sally Ann and her children. Rampersad had constructed a room—which served as a bedroom and kitchen at the back of his grandmother’s house
—for his family, which was not fit for a family of four to live in.
A bank account number (belonging to Sally Ann) was used for donors to deposit contributions.
In July 2013, Rampersad was then transferred to the St James Medical Complex where he spent seven months in rehabilitation.
His recovery has been remarkable, and he is now able to talk and move on his own.
However, while he has regained his health to some degree, he has lost his wife and children and is dependent on his grandmother for financial support.
He is now permanently back at his grandmother’s home. He sleeps in the living room on a makeshift bed as the room he constructed to the back of the house does not have wheelchair access.
He cannot walk and uses diapers as there is no indoor toilet facility.
In a telephone interview with the Express yesterday, Sally Ann claimed she took the children and left to live with her mother in Belmont because Rampersad’s family chased her away.
She claimed further, she received threats from Rampersad himself and his relatives, who accused her of running off with the donations and having another man.
“They say I take all the money and minding a man with it,” she said.
Asked how much donations she collected, Sally Ann said $100,000.
Questioned on what she intends to do with the money, she said, “I will look after me and my children.”
Asked if she is willing to give any of the funds towards Rampersad’s care, she said, “Yes”.
She claimed she loaned Rampersad’s grandmother, Verro James, some $40,000 “in pieces” to build a toilet after receiving the donations.
Questioned on what she is going to do and how she intends to remedy the situation between Rampersad and herself, she responded, “I don’t know because they keep quarrelling and saying all kinds of things. On his mother’s Facebook profile, she say I take $200,000 and minding a man, that is not true.”
Asked if she had bought anything or gave Rampersad any of the donations, Sally Ann said she bought him clothes, diapers and food while he was at the hospital.
She said she also bought him two phones.
Sally Ann said the last time she saw Rampersad was on February 13 at the St James hospital.
“He use to call me every night to bring food for him and I use to go and carry it,” she said.
Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, Rampersad said his wife did not visit him regularly at the hospital and was now preventing him from seeing his children.
“She not telling the truth. I tell she with my own mouth to bring the children and let them spend time with me, I missing them, and she tell me the children is not mine,” said Rampersad.
He said he questioned her about the donations received and “she never answer”.
“It real hurting me; I feeling real stupid because I hear she on the news and she not talking the truth. I need money, I have to buy pampers and wipes.” he added.
He said he also wants to construct a proper room for himself as the donated materials are on site, but he does not have any money to do anything further.
“I sleeping in the living room on a make-up bed; the Government give we 300 block, but we need money to buy sand and gravel and galvanise,” said Rampersad.
He further claimed Sally Ann withdrew monies that were deposited to his account from his former employer, amounting to some $16,000, as she had his ATM (automated teller machine) card and knew the code.
“If you don’t believe me, God will believe me because God do not like people who does lie,” he added.
Sally Ann has denied withdrawing the money and that she knew the code.
Contacted by phone and asked whether Sally Ann loaned her $40,000 to build a toilet, James responded, “Me? My God! Never! Never! Never! God in this world, that woman never give me $40,000. I could swear on my life.”
She said the only money she received from Sally Ann was $1,000 to buy diapers for Rampersad and grocery items.
“Every day, people was calling her and she use to tell me people from away calling and want to give and they will send it to the bank,” said James.
“If I had $40,000, I would have build something for Ryan because is only one bedroom I have,” said James.
She said Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh had visited the family and issued cheques for materials to improve the house.
However, while the materials are on site, there is no money to construct anything or buy additional materials,
“I beg she (Sally Ann) to put down a tank and she tell me no as it was rainy season; she was getting plenty money and maybe that is why she leave,” said James.
James said she is now Rampersad’s primary caregiver and has to take him to the St James hospital thrice a week for his therapy. They do not own a vehicle and have to hire transport.
She added that some of the tablets prescribed for Rampersad were unavailable at the hospital and she had to fork out $345 monthly to buy them from the pharmacy.
James, 63, said she runs a small shop from her home and uses her money to look after Rampersad and buy his diapers, toiletries, clothes and food.
“It have a God. That girl never give me nothing. I never run Sally Ann from here,” said James.
Rampersad’s mother, Pearl James, yesterday denied posting on her Facebook wall anything against Sally Ann.
“All I want to say is I would like to ask her to prove that I have said what she claimed I said on Facebook,” she said.
The Express also checked James’ Facebook and found no such posting.
“I serve a God of no confusion so I cannot be in any confusion and conflict and, hence, the reason I want to have nothing to do with this situation,” said Pearl.