“Matthew! Oh God, I know he is dead, but I want him, God.”
These words of sorrow were among the few Bhagmanee Sookoo bellowed as relatives sapped her head with Alcolado Glacial and tried to comfort her.
Like her son, Marlon and other relatives, she anxiously waited along Fullerton Beach, Cedros yesterday, hoping for her grandson Matthew Sookoo to return. There was no false sense of hope for the Sookoo family after the 14-year-old teenager fell out of a fishing pirogue on Saturday and disappeared underwater.
Marlon Sookoo, the boy’s father, who is also a fisherman, told Guardian Media that all his family wants now is closure.
“I just want to see we get him back so his Mommy could be pleased. She already knows he gone,” Marlon said. Matthew’s mother, Shantee, could barely utter a word as she stared at the sea, hoping to see her boy.
Marlon recalled seeing Matthew ten minutes before he disappeared explaining that a group of villagers were out testing his cousin’s new pirogue. He said they did a test run with two engines and returned to shore to remove one. Set to do another test, using one engine, Matthew asked to accompany the group. However, Marlon told him that he could not go unless he (Marlon) or their cousin was there.
“I was there on the shore talking to the fellas, and when I looked back, I saw him pulling the anchor. I did not know he was going.” Marlon said his son usually gets everything he wants, so he just went ahead. Even as they left, he was not worried as Matthew had gone to the sea many times. He admitted that they did not use life jackets.
While Matthew knew how to swim, Marlon’s information was that his son struck the propeller and probably fell unconscious. The family spent the night at the beach, hoping that Matthew’s body would wash ashore.
One occupant of the ill-fated trip explained that it was a tradition for the villagers to test new vessels. He said there were six people on the pirogue when the captain lost control.
“The boat ended up making a turn. It started to spin, and one of the young boys fell off the boat without any of us knowing because everyone got lashed. The impact caused everyone to fall. When the boat got out of control, the engine was still going. The first spin the boat made, the boy fell over.”
He said everyone fell inside the boat except for Matthew. Two men suffered blows to their heads, while his injuries were minor. He said the accident was not about an inexperienced captain as speed, sudden waves, or slipping on gas can cause someone to lose control.
The Coast Guard deployed vessels and a helicopter yesterday in the search, which was difficult because of the sea condition.
Marlon said they postponed the search until 3.30 pm. They hoped that 24 hours after Matthew entered the water, his body would resurface.