(JAMAICA GLEANER) — If anyone had told Natalee Carty that Tuesday, June 2, would have been the last day she saw her 15-year-old son, Raheem Campbell, alive, she would not have believed it.
But as fate would have it, a river trip with four friends in Christiana, Manchester, at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday turned deadly for the youngster.
“They (friends) said him go out into the water say him a walk out, and them see when him go down,” Carty told The Gleaner, recalling what she was told of the tragic events. “They stretched a piece of bamboo give him, and one [friend] was trying to hold on to him, but he was pulling that one down. As they were stretching the bamboo, they said him eyes just turn over and he just went down.”
An alarm was raised, and men from the community rushed to the boys’ assistance, and after some time, they were able to retrieve Raheem’s body from the river.
Carty said that she had previously warned Raheem against going to the river as a number of persons had lost their lives there over the years. She said that when she last saw him on Tuesday afternoon, she did not know that he was heading to the river, which had last claimed the life of a Holmwood Technical High School student.
“I see him almost every day. He goes to Troy High and he lives with my sister, who has a shop here near me,” she said. “He would stop here every day and wait until my sister was ready. They would both go home together.”
The grieving mom said that she had been seeing Raheem every day since COVID-19 forced the suspension of physical classes at his Trelawny-based high school.
“He brings down my lunch from up by my sister while I stay in the shop,” she said. “When he came down Tuesday, he brought my lunch and then left to go hang out with his friends. I had no idea he was going to the river.
“Every parent warn them children about that river because it come in like down there is haunted … . Raheem can’t swim and he went out into the deep part,” she said as her voice sank and words failed her.
Raheem was the eldest of Carty’s three children. She described him as her first love – the one who caught her heart and the one who has now left a permanent void inside.
“He was a good boy. Him give him little trouble like teen boys do, but he was mannerable. He was friendly, willing to help people, and he loved football,” she recalled.
“My three-year-old son doesn’t fully understand what has happened, but my six-year-old is traumatised, crying and shaking,” Carty added.
“When I heard that my son drowned, I started crying instantly, but I did not believe until I saw his body by the riverside. I don’t know how I reach back up the hill. A must God push me up.”
Raheem’s grandmother, Jocelyn Carty, was in a daze state when The Gleaner visited the shop where her grandson spent much of his day.
She was looking forward to seeing him return to school, start and complete fifth form and graduate, but instead, she will be helping with funeral arrangements.
“If it wasn’t for COVID-19, he would have been in school yesterday (Tuesday) … ,” family friend Rosemarie Fletcher said. “A lot of the students around this side are left out – no Internet, no money to buy data – and so many of them go out to hang out with their friends.”
She said that the entire community has been in a state of shock as Raheem was loved and respected by many.