The mother of 21-year-old Rashaun Brathwaite who fell to his death after being electrocuted in a tree on Saturday says her son was picking the breadfruit to help out a senior resident who was preparing pudding and souse.
In fact, Maureen Brathwaite, said the fourth of her seven children had a willing and caring spirit which usually meant he would extend a helping hand to those in the close-knit Apes Hill, Baywoods, St James community whenever they asked for his assistance.
This morning, two days after Rashaun died on his older brother’s lap, Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY that she was still in disbelief and reeling in pain over her son’s untimely death. She said she now has to play a major role in helping to nurture and care for Rashaun’s 11-month-old son Renaldo Brathwaite.
“He was famous for doing anything for anybody. Everybody telling me I got to eat but I haven’t eaten. My good friend brought some food for me and I got it there in the fridge. I have to try to hang in there.
“All I have been doing is drinking a little alcohol to help calm my nerves. But I need to go to a doctor. I called my workplace this morning and they told me to take my time,” a grieving Brathwaite said.
The mother said her child was picking breadfruit with a rod, which came into contact with power lines when he was electrocuted and fell from the tree.
Brathwaite, who was just a short distance away from where the incident took place after 10 a.m., said that before Rashaun went up the tree, they were standing at the roadside together, from where he sold watermelons he grew in his kitchen garden.
“And the lady’s son asked him to get two breadfruits for her to make pudding and souse. I was not too far from him and I had the baby. I told him to remember you got a child, go, and come back.
“And then I look up the road and I see the people run across the road and I say ‘Terry something happen up there you know’. Then this little boy came on a bicycle and said ‘something happened to Rashaun’. I holler hard for his brother Baggio and then I pick up the phone and call my older son and he came cross.
“Baggio came to me and asked for his ID card and I asked him how he was breathing and he said heavy. I called my girlfriend and when me and she drive up on the scene and I hold my child hand it dropped. I knew my child was dead,” Brathwaite said.
Baggio Skeete recalled that he spent quite some time giving his brother mouth to mouth resuscitation until he realized that his efforts were not working. He said eventually he held him closely on his lap, hoping and praying that when the ambulance arrived his body would still have life.
Skeete said he would never forget when the paramedics said they could not take Rashaun from the scene.
“I was hoping they would say they could. I miss my brother, for real. I really miss my brother,” Skeete said holding back the tears.
Meanwhile, Hulda Bowen, the woman for whom Rashaun was picking the breadfruits, could not hold back the tears.
Struggling to get her words out, she declared that it hurt to know that the young man died trying to do her a favour.
Bowen said she was also thinking about what would have happened to her son if he did not get out of the tree moments before Rashaun was electrocuted.
The 69-year-old said she was waiting on the breadfruits to complete preparing the local delicacy for sale.
“So you could only imagine how I felt when I got the news? It is something he is accustomed to doing. If they are looking for breadfruits to roast they would bring for me.
“The little boy used to be here with my grandson. He was a very nice young man. He was very cool, you would never hear him say a harsh word or get into any arguments.
“It hurts me to know that he got that young baby and he is not here to help. It is really hard, it is really tough,” Bowen said.
Residents lamented that they were angry that hours after Rashaun died Barbados Light and Power (BL&P) workers came to trim that same breadfruit tree and others nearby.
They complained that numerous calls were made to authorities regarding the need for the tree to be trimmed since the electrical wires running through it appeared to be a hazard.
A male resident recalled that one evening he was standing on the opposite side of the road when a branch from the breadfruit tree touched the live wire and he saw sparks.
Rashaun’s mother said she was not happy with the late response.
“When I was up there on Saturday the men start to tell them ‘wunna wait until a man life has gone to come and cut the tree’ and people was making several calls to you all and wunna now come. From there them went cutting other trees straight cross. Even who live near where it happen was calling because it was a hazard,” she said.
Rashaun’s neighbour recalled that moments before he died he gave her one of the watermelons he grew. The neighbour said she admired his ambitious spirit and drive to learn new skills.
Manager, Communications and Government Relations at BL&P Jackie Marshall-Clarke said the company was saddened by Rashaun’s tragic passing and expressed condolences to his family and friends. She said the BL&P was investigating the matter.