The miracle that Cathy-Ann Hinds had been praying for over the past three days did not happen.
Her elder sister Veldene Hinds, 57, succumbed to her injuries yesterday evening, the victim of a bullet to the back of her head while travelling in the back seat of a van driven by her brother Winston Hinds around 8:40 on Sunday night in the vicinity of Barbarees Hill, St Michael. Police believe it was a stray bullet from a robber’s gun.
Veldene, who would have turned 58 on May 23, had been in a critical condition since, and after doctors advised the family that they could do nothing to remove the bullet lodged in her brain, her sister resorted to praying for divine intervention.
With her prayers having gone unanswered, a devastated Cathy-Ann has to cope with images of her sister hooked up to machines in the Intensive Care Unit of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) carved on her mind.
Slumped in a chair in the family house at South District, St George this morning, and surrounded by family and friends, she told Barbados TODAY that she and the family had been having a hard time making sense of the situation.
“I am loss for words. You don’t even know how I am lost for words right now. I am still shocked. You know these things happen, but for it to hit home at you, you just can’t believe it. I mean I am so at a loss,” she said, the sadness manifesting itself in her every word.
The pain was compounded by the fact that Cathy-Ann had not seen her sister since the previous Thursday when Veldene went to the family house to visit her daughter, Alicia Hinds, who was recuperating from a recent operation.
Worse yet, when she rang Veldene’s workplace, Crystal Cove Hotel on Sunday afternoon to relay a message, her sister was out at lunch so she did not get to speak to her.
“That same Sunday I called at work for my sister because her daughter told me to call and tell her my brother was going to pick her up at 4 [p.m.]. They [co-workers] said she was at lunch and I asked them to pass on the message. I didn’t even get to speak to her and then for them to call and tell me that [she had been shot] I was like ‘this is crazy.’”
It was Alicia, who Cathy-Ann refers to as Kerri, who broke the news to her aunt. Alicia had also been a passenger in the car. She was travelling in the front seat when her mother was shot.
“Kerri was crying and I asked her what happened and she said, ‘my mom got shot’. I say ‘shot?’ and she said ‘yes’. I say ‘Kerri, she dead?’ She said no they were on their way to the hospital and I told her I was coming there,” the 44-year-old recalled.
Having made her way to the QEH on Sunday night, Cathy-Ann saw her sister who appeared as though “she was just asleep”.
The doctors told family members that they could not perform surgery to remove the bullet from her brain because the chances of her dying on the operating table were much too high.
“They said it was nothing that they can do for her but just make her comfortable. But the doctors don’t have the last say. I was hoping for her to pull through despite what the doctors say.
“I believe there is a God. I still do. I was hoping for a miracle, but God understands, and he understands the type of person my sister is.”
There was a special bond between the sisters, which became even stronger after their mother died eleven years ago.
It was Veldene, Cathy-Ann said, who took responsibility for her nine siblings and became a mother to them.
Her loss, therefore, has been devastating, she said.
“She was very bubbly and sweet. She was the mother of the family. If anything happened she was the one that you can lean on. She was the strongest person; she was the pillar of the family. She was an innocent bystander. I am devastated,” Cathy-Ann told Barbados TODAY.
She said her niece, who enjoyed a close relationship with her mother, and who was not at home when Barbados TODAY visited, was not taking her mother’s death well.
Even more troubling for the 32-year-old Alicia, her son Kadesh was sitting next to his grandmother when the bullet struck.
“Honestly, Kerri is not holding up good. She has her son she is trying to be strong for because he was there in the vehicle next to his grandmother when it happened. She is still recovering from her operation, and then for this to happen. She is not good,” Cathy-Ann revealed.
Friends gathered at the house described Veldene as a wonderful woman, who looked out for the needs of her loved ones.
“She did not deserve this,” declared one family friend, on the verge of tears.
When Barbados TODAY visited Crystal Cove where Veldene had been a longstanding employee, management declined to comment.
Meantime, the police said they were continuing their investigation into the shooting, but said they had no leads. The Royal Barbados Police Force has also asked anyone with information to call 430-7189 or crime stoppers at 1-800-TIPS.