Minister of National Security Stuart Young suffered a dislocated shoulder when he tumbled off a stage after speaking at the official opening of the new $71 million Penal Fire Station yesterday.
The step-up leading to the stage was unsecured and Young lost his balance and fell flat on his back as he made his way off-stage. Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar gasped and put her hands over her face when Young fell.
Grimacing as he clutched his shoulder after the fall, Young was led into a nearby ambulance by Fire Service medical personnel. UDECOTT officials and the police attempted to block the media from taking photos of the injured minister, who was later rushed to the San Fernando General Hospital.
Moments later, another thud was heard when a guest, Omar Maharaj, also fell off his broken chair.
A video of Stuart’s fall went viral soon afterwards, unleashing an avalanche of memes. Hundreds of people expressed sympathy for Young and demanded an investigation into the faulty stage.
When Guardian Media examined the step, it was unsecured and had also been placed on an uneven surface.
Young, in a statement after being released from the hospital, thanked his well-wishers, saying he had suffered a dislocated shoulder.
He explained, “This morning, after giving my remarks at the opening of the new Penal Fire Station, as I was coming off of the stage and stood on the one-step to come off, it slid, as it was not anchored or secured, and I fell. The fall was quite a hard one and I dislocated my shoulder.”
He added, “I was rushed by the Fire Service’s Ambulance to the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) where I was diagnosed, treated and discharged for a dislocated shoulder.”
Young thanked all the people who helped him and treated me during this experience.
“I thank the Fire Service’s personnel who carried me in the ambulance for their comfort and professionalism, all of the nurses, doctors and other staff at the SFGH who diagnosed and treated me, I felt proud at the level of treatment and expertise of all of the persons at SFGH and I thank the many others who ensured I was ok.
“Fortunately, I did not break or fracture any bones or hit my head. God is good,” he wrote.
Persad-Bissessar later said she was sorry for Young.
“It is so unfortunate. I think he got a really hard hit. He was very kind to us. Both of us were kind in our remarks to each other. We wish him all the blessings and prayers for his recovery. We didn’t set it up, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She added, “I have a step issue and that’s why my officers help me up steps and down steps but that step was very small and it could tip you backwards. It was unbalanced.”
Asked who was responsible for setting up the stage, Persad-Bissessar said UDECOTT was the provider of the facility.
“They did the building and arranged the opening. They did a great job and it was beautiful but only the stage was an issue and the chair. I don’t understand why the chair fell. Thank God I wasn’t on that chair. Mr Maharaj was on the chair and he fell,” she recalled.
The ribbon-cutting to officially open the facility was not eventually done although Persad-Bissessar offered to cut the ribbon.
Nobody at the site wanted to say which company had erected the stage, except to say UDECOTT was in charge. UDECOTT’s divisional manager of corporate support, Sean Fouche, meanwhile said he could not divulge any information as investigations were ongoing.