Boy, 7, suspected of drowning in Saltibus river; social media blames WASCO

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Boy, 7, suspected of drowning in Saltibus river; social media blames WASCO
The victim
The victim

(St. Lucia News Online) — A 24-hour, stay-at-home curfew is underway in Saint Lucia — implemented by the government last week to help stop the community-spread of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

So how did a 7-year-old boy end up in a river in Jetrine, Saltibus on Saturday, April 4? And how did he lose his life?

Police are currently investigating the death of Reyes Smith, who is suspected of drowning, according to law enforcement sources.

Emergency officials said fire officers from the Vieux Fort station found the boy unresponsive after they responded to a report that came in a few minutes after 6 p.m.

The boy was transported by ambulance to St. Jude Hospital where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.

Initial reports reaching St. Lucia News Online indicated that Reyes had a faint pulse when he was pulled from the water, but hope faded when fire officers arrived on the scene and found no vital signs.

Where were his parents or guardians?

Details surrounding the circumstances that led to his death are still unclear. However, social media has taken the story by storm, with many people heaping blame on the Water and Sewerage Company Inc (WASCO) for the child’s death.

Jetrine residents told our newsroom that areas in Saltibus have been without water for some time now. They claim this may have led the family to leave their home to bathe in the river, as a last resort, before tragedy struck.

Similar sentiments are being expressed across social media.

Persons are questioning why some communities are without water supply during a pandemic and a 24-hour curfew.

“No water for almost a month now. They have to go to the river to bathe and wash. It’s a very sad situation,” one person wrote.

“From the time I know myself, people in Saltibus have had a water issue. If there’s no water at home what do you want them to do?” someone else questioned.

One person bluntly said the child’s blood is on WASCO’s ‘hands’: “There’s a lockdown and we need a more consistent water supply. Not everyone can afford tanks!”

“There was no water today. I had to go in the river and up to now still no water in the tap so it’s just a mishap, very sad indeed,” another person said.

St. Lucia News Online has been informed that the Piaye area has been without water, as well.

“No water in Piaye area for days,” a resident said in an email to St. Lucia News Online. “Now how are we supposed to remain lockdown if we don’t have water. We have to break the curfew to get water.”

Another person from Piaye said on social media: “We just start to get a trickle in Piaye after two days.”

Despite the allegations levelled against WASCO, several others believe that the parent should share some blame. Our newsroom understands that the victim’s mother is a 32-year-old.

“St. Lucia is under 24-hour shutdown and a child dies when he should be home. People, please just try to stay inside, and if you out with your kids for whatever circumstances, please supervise them. This is crazy. It’s really sad this happened,” one person commented.

Another had a different explanation: “There is a difference between stay home and stay inside. Inside is classified as different vaults of your house, stay home is around your house. The river was around his home.”

One woman found the comments insensitive.

“My goodness… A child lost his life, a child!!!!!! Quarantine or not, inside or outside…it could have happened to anyone! So some of us are bloody implying that this death was merited? Man, we’re more messed up than we think. Fatherrrrrrr St. Lucia is not a real place. Bashing the death of a child. Please enlighten us further on the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate situation. And still, when we know the truth, we are in no position to JUDGE!!!!!”

But another person “still think some level of supervision was lacking hence this happened, despite what the situation was.”

We will provide you with more information later on this developing story,

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