Flashback: Were you there?

It was a horrifying story: a school outing at a local beach ending the worst way.  Several school kids, barely in their teens, were enjoying what was supposed to be a supervised beach party.
At one point five or six of them boarded a dinghy that was in no way related to the school outing. The overloaded boat was but a few yards from the shore when it capsized. Three young girls, all non-swimmers, drowned in a few feet of water.
We were about to close the next day’s issue when word of the incident reached us. Caroline Popovic, then a STAR reporter, raced to the scene, got her story and returned in time to make it our lead.
Ironically, relatively little was said about the horrible fact that three kids who were supposedly being monitored by school representatives lost their lives. No one was called to account. Instead, the politicians and the concerned school joined forces to attack the STAR for featuring the casualties of their neglect on our front page. It would not be the last time we were scapegoated for bringing the truth to light.
No surprise that to this day there has never been an inquiry. Three young girls perished, no questions asked. The year was 1987. But then, has much changed since then?
No matter, kudos to the following for remembering. Raquel Williams writes: “Their names were Marcella, Cheryl and Erica. They were students attending the Girls Vocational School and were attending a beach picnic at Pigeon Point with fellow students and teachers. Some of them took a ride on a fishing boat which capsized. Sadly they lost their lives but I think one or two escaped. I was a student at SALCC at the time. A then popular song by Burning Flames always gives me a flashback to this tragedy.”
I believe the song was “All Aboard?”
Perra Mason also recalled the details. Then there were those who said we demonstrated very bad taste and insensitivity by reminding relatives of the dead of the worst day of their lives. If only the protesters and others of like mind had cared half as much the day the incident occurred. If only they had demanded some action from the authorities a quarter of a century ago. The sin lies not in our reminding Saint Lucians of the horrors we too often tolerate without comment. The sin lies in our silence at precisely when we should be outraged!
And now for next week’s Flashback. See how much you know about our recent history—beautiful and not so beautiful!
—-Rick Wayne


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