Relatives of 91-year-old Barbadian Reverend Dr Hugh Small are struggling to come to terms with the “violent death” of the Cocoa Beach, Florida resident.
Small, who was born and raised in Joe’s River, St Joseph, but had been living in the United States for decades, was killed on Saturday around 3:10 p.m. in a two-vehicle crash near his home on the Atlantic coast of Florida, just south of Cape Canaveral.
Small’s 79-year-old wife Corine Small, who was driving the vehicle, is in the hospital fighting for her life.
The elderly man’s nephew, politician and religious leader Reverend Joseph Atherley told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, relatives were devastated by the news.
“This is a shock. After having gone through some serious issues with his stomach, heart, head, this took him. I think the shock is in how it happened. You would have thought that we would actually be witnessing him go [in his old age],” Atherley said.
The Opposition politician said Small’s two children – Tennyson Small, who lives in Barbados, and his daughter Greta Smith, who lives near her parents’ home in Florida – are both struggling to come to grips with the tragedy.
“Greta was very distraught when she called me. I think it is the shock because of the way it happened. A car crash. The violence of that is shocking. You can’t live forever, but you are shocked at the violent death, with a youngster, a 26-year-old, running a red light,” Atherley lamented.
Barbados TODAY understands from the Florida Highway Patrol that another driver, Devin Holloway, ran a red light at an intersection and slammed into the car in which Small was travelling.
The elderly man, who was in the passenger seat, was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown out of the vehicle, the Florida Highway Patrol said. His wife, however, had buckled up for the journey.
“We are praying for his wife. I know she went into surgery yesterday. I am not sure about today. [I am] waiting to hear an update,” Atherley said.
The preacher explained that his uncle had gone to the United States on a farming programme, before enjoying a successful career in the construction industry.
He said Small had come close to losing his life in accidents twice before. It was after the second accident that the Barbadian decided to “turn his life around”, eventually becoming a minister. He led a church in Florida and also headed a religious broadcast ministry.
Atherley said despite the presence of his own father, he looked up to his uncle.
“He was a father figure in my life. My father was there but he was like a father figure to us. You know when you’re growing up and uncle comes from the States every year.
“He brings these Polaroid cameras taking [your pictures], two minutes later you see your image. He brought us goodies. And when I got married he was the one who gave me away,” he told Barbados TODAY.
The two last saw each other last year.