Thirty-year-old Damien McCollin made his way to St Barnabas Anglican Church early yesterday morning to thank God for life. But there was a certain degree of emptiness there, for missing this morning was his employer, friend and “‘mother”, Verona Gibson, who was mauled to death by a pack of five dogs on Saturday morning.
As he stood at the front of the pews, McCollin had time to reflect on how easily he could have been the second victim of the animals with a seemingly insatiable appetite for blood at the time.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, January 28, McCollin bravely attempted to rescue the 74-year-old Gibson of Monroe Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael from the ravaging animals.
He was bitten all over his body during his heroic attempt to save Gibson’s life and was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.
From the front of his home, McCollin recounted that terrible morning when he lost a woman who was like a mother to him.
“I heard the noise and I came out and just saw the dogs. At that time I didn’t know it was her on the ground, so I tried to pelt rocks and I tried to get the dogs to run off the scene from biting the woman,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Instead, the pack turned on McCollin, who had to fight for his life.
“The dogs saw me and attacked me; then I ended up fighting with them.”
Thanks to a passing motorist, McCollin barely escaped.
Although he was thankful to be alive, there was regret and sorrow at Gibson’s loss.
“I cried bad this morning when it hit me,” the Monroe Road resident said.
The thoughtful McCollin said he knew Gibson from the time he was a child, and as he grew up he would assist her with farming her land.
He described her as electricity, a light in the darkness and a crucial power source.
“She was like a mother to me though, that’s the honest truth. I can’t find words to explain the loss, but the loss is a cruel one.
“She is a woman that set the way for people to live: caring and loving. She didn’t deserve to go down that way,” he added.
While many have taken to social media to criticize the dog owner, McCollin was sympathetic, saying “this is going to haunt him till he dead”.
As a matter of fact, he said, the owner was another one of the residents virtually raised by Gibson.
“That man run around Miss Gibson house from a boy. He and her son pitch marbles and fly kite, so the same pain that the son feels he would have to be feeling,” he said.
“It could have happened to anybody. Everybody does got dogs.”