Laurel V Williams
Already deeply tramautised by the fiery deaths of his elderly mother, five-year-old daughter, and pregnant niece-in-law, Wilfred Chattergoon pleaded with the public to delete and stop sharing a video of the house fire.
The child’s bloodcurdling screams are heard, and it haunts him each time he picks up his phone.
“When I pick up the phone, I have to drop it. That is all I am hearing – her screams. The people who recorded and shared it are hurting the family,” said Chatttergoon, 40.
The father of three spoke to Newsday at Sacred Heart Villa at Caratal Road in Gasparillo, where the surviving family members have been staying since Saturday’s deadly fire. The two-bedroom structure is part of the Sacred Heart RC Church’s property.
Chattergoon’s mother Evelina Miller, 74, his daughter Amy Chattergoon and Tender Grant, 22, who was six months pregnant, died on Saturday after a fire broke out at the family’s two-storey wooden and concrete house at Caratal Road. The house also had two adjoining buildings separated by a door.
Four of the ten survivors are children under ten.
The fifth child, Kimberly Chattergoon, 16, was still in the intensive care unit of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH).
Kimberly’s guardian, Rosetta Bramble, 55, also suffered burns but was discharged from the hospital on Sunday.
Chattergooon recalled getting the news of the fire by phone while at the SFGH with his eight-year-old daughter, who had earlier suffered an asthma attack. She was expected to be discharged on Monday evening.
When he went home, the family’s pet dog howled, and he knew instantly he had lost more than material things. He blamed himself for not being there to save his family.
“When he came out of the car, Spotty howled three times. I was not there to help them,” he said, in tears.
On Monday, assistant director of the National Family Services Division Kathleen Sarkar and other Social Development and Family Services Ministry officials also visited and spoke with the family.
Fire officers also revisited the fire scene on Monday. The cause of the fire is believed to be an electrical problem.
Chattergoon and his nephew Tre Chattergoon, 21 (Grant’s partner), helped pitch a tent in the yard of the villa. Chattergoon also returned to the ruins of the house.
“We are getting a lot of help from people who are feeling our pain. I appreciate everything right now,” Chattergoon said as people greeted him and offered condolences and hugs.
One of the good samaritans was special olympian Darrius Gokool, 24, of Princes Town. Gokool represented this country at the 2017 Special Olympics.
Gokool, who is hearing-impaired and cannot speak, is also a fire victim. The hockey player and his parents were among four families who became homeless on May 25. The Gokool family is staying with friends and family in Princes Town.
Gokool’s father, David Gokool, spoke on his behalf.
“He is willing to give back. We heard about this on the news. We got a lot of items from the public like clothes that cannot fit us, as well as food. We lost our house too, but they lost their house and relatives.”
Anyone who wants to donate money to Chattergoon can do so via his First Citizens Bank account. no2594621.