The usual hustle and bustle at the Berinda Cox Fish Market was replaced with a sombre atmosphere this evening.
It was a sad occasion as the fisher folk came together to mourn and reflect on the life of vendor Rita Sissy Hunte who succumbed to injuries she sustained when she was pinned by a vehicle in the car park of the Oistins, Christ Church market last week.
Scores of candles were lit, and voices rose to sing popular Christian hymns lustily, in tribute to the deceased vendor who is affectionately referred to as the “mother” of the market, and a mother of seven children.
Members of the spiritual Baptist church led the ceremony.
One of Hunte’s daughter’s found it difficult to hold back the tears, as other family members and close friends barely managed to keep their tears from flowing.
The woman, who would have celebrated her birthday on July 8, was remembered as a kind, loving, soft spoken individual who made a significant contribution to the development of the fishing industry through years of hard work and dedication.
Member of Parliament for the area, Ralph Thorne, who said he had a memorable encounter with the vendor when he visited the market several years ago, noted that because that market is where she spent most of her life, it was only fitting that her funeral service be held there in the coming weeks. She was selling fish in Oistins even before the market was built.
Thorne told those gathered that though the candle lights will be no more at the end of the night, the light Hunte left behind through the way she lived her life, will forever be illuminated in their hearts.
The MP urged the fisher folk, in tribute to Hunte, to create a family atmosphere in the market.
“The turnout is impressive because we have come here to pay tribute to a very impressive lady,” Thorne said.
While 74-year-old Hunte who lived at Upper Carters Gap, Christ Church, lost her life, Dorothy Hall, 63, of Sayers Court, Christ Church complained of injuries to her right foot.
According to the police report, the car involved in the incident was driven by a 54-year-old man who had parked the vehicle on the northern side of the car park. He had just moved off when, “for some reason still under investigation”, the car accelerated across the car park, struck another vehicle, mounted the sidewalk and collided with Hunte and Hall who were sitting under a wooden structure where the fish vendors ply their trade.
Hunte was pinned to a post. She was transported by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) with severe injuries – fractures to both feet and injuries to her lower torso – but she died at the hospital.
Standing in front of the number three stall where Hunte plied her trade for more than 40 years, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey told the grieving crowd that work had already started to provide greater protection for the workers, particularly against the background that this was the second time Hunte was struck by an out of control vehicle, while sitting in the same spot.
He said the Ministry of Transport and Works started measuring the area tonight, with the intention of installing barriers between the parking lot and the vendors.
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