When 17-year-old Azariah Lewis left his Worthing View, Christ Church home for work around 2 p.m. yesterday, he was in high spirits and seemingly in good health.
He joked and laughed with his mother Paulette Stuart and played with his 13-year-old sister Azriel, before saying goodbye.
This is the lasting memory they will have of Azariah, who collapsed and died at the Esso Service Station in Black Rock where he worked, leaving his mother grieving the early loss of a son and at a loss for words.
Overcome by anguish, Stuart told Barbados TODAY she simply could not understand how a boy who appeared so healthy could die so young and so suddenly.
“He eat and everything before he went long. He was laughing and good. To hear [that he died] was a big shock because he was good when he left here. I just don’t know what happen.
“He wasn’t sick. He just used to get a cold and that was not often. So I don’t understand how he just drop down and dead,” the mother cried.
Painful as it was to go to the scene, Stuart made the journey and took at look at her dead son’s face before his body was taken away.
She said the smile which he had carried earlier had gone but he was peaceful, as though he was asleep.
Throughout the interview, the heartbroken mother repeatedly declared that her son was “a good boy” who “didn’t use to give me no trouble”.
She said Azariah was well mannered and respectful to all those he interacted with, and spent most of his spare time at home in his bedroom, playing video games.
“That is all he used to do or go out every once in a while. He didn’t use to drink, or smoke or lime on no block. He wasn’t about no guns. I ain’t had no problems with that boy.
“He was a child any mother would want. And in these times when boy children giving so much trouble, he never gave me no trouble,” a sobbing Stuart said.
Azariah, a former student of The Lodge School, had plans to further his education in the immediate future.
Just last Monday, mother and son discussed the subject as she accompanied him to an interview at Skills Training. If that interview were a success, the youngster would begin studies in electrical engineering in September, they agreed.
Sitting next to Stuart offering support and comfort was Azariah’s father O’neal Lewis. He too, was visibly shaken and he said little, just breaking into tears at intervals.
However, he said his son was a “cool guy” who adhered to his advice to stay away from bad company.
“We had no problems with him. He listened to what I tell he about staying from people that would get him into trouble. All he did was go to work and back in here,” the father said.
When Barbados TODAY visited the gas station where Lewis worked since October last year, mainly members of the management team were at the pumping stations.
Operations Manager Lavington Lynch said staff members were offered counselling and had to be sent home this morning because they were finding it difficult to cope with the loss of their co-worker.
Lynch described the teenager as a good worker who he never had to reprimand for poor work ethic or bad behaviour.
“There is nothing to say other than he was a joy to manage. He was so quiet that if you didn’t see him you wouldn’t know he is around. He never got into a quarrel with anybody. Everybody is shocked,” Lynch said.
A post-mortem is to be conducted to determine the cause of death.