Plans to celebrate his son’s third birthday next month were shattered after little Romelu Amani Drakes drowned in a pool at his speech therapy school in Couva on Tuesday.
Now, his heartbroken father Shion Drakes, 31, is demanding answers.
“I want justice. I want a proper something put in place properly to find out what really went on. You can’t just tell me my son died just so, I need to know how he died,” lamented Drakes at his Princes Town home yesterday. Romelu, who lives with his mother in Balmain, Couva, attended the school three times a week.
Police said his uncle dropped him off at the school in Esperanza Village around 9 am on Tuesday. When his aunt and uncle returned for him around noon, they were kept waiting for about 15 minutes. Then, a teacher informed them that Romelu was found in the pool and they were trying to resuscitate him. The child was rushed to the Couva District Health Facility in the relative’s car but by then it was too late.
Guardian Media visited the school yesterday but it was closed and none of the officials were around. The grandfather of a six-year-old child who attends the school said Romelu had squeezed through a space in a piece of plywood board that was blocking the entrance to the back area of the compound where the above ground pool is located on the property.
“What happen the school is fenced off but there is a little plywood board (blocking off the pool area), my grandson said the little boy squeeze through it he wasn’t supposed to go there and when the parents came they were looking for him and they could not find him. And my grandson told them he went in the pool,” he said.
Recalling what he saw on Tuesday when he arrived to pick up his grandson, the man said an official informed Romelu’s relative that there was an accident.
“They went in and in less than a minute she came out, she was very hysterical. And then she went and tell the gentleman something and he came and he use an obscene word but he was in shock. Alisha came holding the little boy face up and they went into the car and they drove off.”
At his Princes Town home yesterday, Drakes complained that the school officials were yet to contact him about the tragic incident.
Drakes, an electrician, was at work when his son’s mother called him and he immediately went to the school.
“I say where is my son? I say there is an emergency? She was like I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was like what you mean, I heard something but nobody is telling me what going on? I say where is him? She say he is at the Couva District Health Centre.”
When he got there, Drakes saw the lifeless body of his son on a bed. Noting that the school has surveillance cameras, Drakes said he will be returning there to get his questions answered. He said they were planning to have a party to celebrate Romelu’s birthday on April 23.
Describing his son, he said, “Very loving child. He hugs everybody. He plays with everybody. He’s one of the most caring child that I ever, that was my life my onliest child.”
Drakes said he never imagined this would happen.
“Never in a thousand years I would have think this would have happened. I thinking everything in good hands.”
He wants the school officials to tell him what happened.
“They withholding information because if that is the way he fell into the pool that will be very embarrassing to them so they don’t want to give me the correct information as to how he fell into the pool. If you have a pool it is not supposed to be filled with water, that is a school. How you could have a pool in a school?”
He said the school caters to special needs children, including slow learners and children who have speech impediments. Drakes said the school had a student population of approximately 18 children ranging from two years old to eight years. There are about three classrooms in the building but he said the top story of the building is a private dwelling area. He said swimming is not used for any part of the school curriculum. Drakes said he paid a monthly school fee of $1,300 for his son.
An autopsy is expected to be done later this week.
Couva police are investigating.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government closed all schools last March and an online education system was implemented. However, in February Form Four, Five and Six students were allowed to return to school at reduced hours.
Calls and Whatsapp Messages to Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly went unanswered up to press time.