He has been hailed a hero, ever since his brave deed on Friday November 6, 2015. And for that one act of kindness 45-year-old Carlton Ochilien of Jeremie Street, Castries received an overwhelming number of votes by STAR readers, making him our Readers’ Choice Person of the Year for 2015. The morning in question started off with trickles of rain which soon increased in intensity. Before long, the usual areas around the island that are prone to flooding, including Bexon and the city of Castries, were water-logged. For Carlton it was something to which he had grown accustomed as a resident of the city and as one who frequently performed chores for persons in the Jeremie Street area, a place often hard-hit by flooding waters. Carlton had become a flood expert, of sorts, helping to unclog drains and manholes when water levels rose.
Carlton says that on that particular Friday he was not only helping to mitigate the flood situation but was also directing traffic when he realised that a pregnant woman was in distress. While walking almost knee-deep in water, the woman had fallen into a manhole which was not visible from above the murky water. Carlton described the situation as like an eternity after the woman disappeared and before he noticed a hand struggling from beneath the water. “At that point I called for others to come and help,” Carlton told reporters after the ordeal.
Without waiting for assistance, Carlton grabbed the woman’s hand but, with no one to help, he was dragged into the manhole and quickly became submerged. That did not stop his determination to help the drowning woman and so, with all his might, he wriggled beneath her and pushed her up and out. It was at that point that other individuals came to assist and helped the woman out. Carlton was not so lucky – at least not yet.
For the next forty-five minutes or so he remained submerged beneath the city streets as the gushing waters swept him from the original manhole he had entered on upper Jeremie Street downwards through culverts. Many who had witnessed the incident feared the worst. And as the rains continued to pour that day, some how, some way, Carlton was able to emerge from another manhole, shaken but alive and miraculously unscathed.
Asked if he had been fearful, Carlton responded with an unequivocal “no” adding that it was just instinct that had allowed him to spring into action and help save not one but two souls: a mother and her unborn child. Since then not only has the woman in question been heaping praise on Carlton and the others who helped, but overnight he became a hero. And for his act of bravery STAR readers thought no other person befitting of the award of Readers’ Choice – Person of the year.