Saturday, February 17, 2018

Relatives puzzled as ‘good swimmer’ drowns


SAD FACES: Relatives of drowning victim Hakeem Austin at Forensic Science Centre, St James yesterday. Austin, 19, lost his life at Valencia River on Saturday. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

Mark Fraser

Relatives of 19-year-old Hakeem “Kerron” Austin, who drowned in Valencia River on Saturday evening, are still trying to understand how the teenager went under the water and failed to resurface as he was described as a good swimmer. 

“He was a strong, strong swimmer. He loved the water and since he was small, he was always making laps at the beach, in pools, in the river.  Basically, wherever it had water he was at home. So we find it very strange that his friends said he got into some difficulty and couldn’t get out,” said Austin’s mother Latoya Browne. 

She was speaking to members of the press yesterday at Forensic Science Centre in St James.

Browne said her son had four other siblings and was a very outgoing person who loved sports, especially football and cricket. 

Austin’s uncle, who gave his name as Gyasi, said from what he w as told his nephew had made two laps in the river with a friend, when they decided they would get out the water. 

“From what the boys who were there told me, the two of them decided to get out of the river and they were walking towards the riverbank. His friend was in front and when he happened to look back, he saw Kerron go underwater. Now at first he didn’t give it much thought cause he know Kerron is a swimmer, but when some time passed and he was not seeing Kerron at all, he raised an alarm and called out for a next friend and shout out, ‘aye! like the man drowning!’ and both of them dived looking for him.

“They even call for help from some men who were on the riverbank and a set of them went diving for Kerron’s body. But by the time they find his body, it was too late, he was dead. They said one of the guys found his body in a little cave where it had a set of roots, so we don’t know if he get pull in or stuck in it while walking or what, we just don’t know,” Gyasi explained. 

The autopsy on Austin’s body confirmed that the teenager drowned. 

PC Sooklal of Valencia Police Post is continuing enquiries. —Alexander Bruzual