Approaching the huge, stately building on Wednesday 16th September, 2015, I was amazed at the massive size and very appealing facade of the Babonneau Police Station. While I waited to interview Inspector Terry Bradley, the police officer in charge of this particular northern unit, I couldn’t help but notice, and was quite impressed by, the cleanliness of the Police Station and the organization and apparent efficiency of its staff.
Their first community policing project had been the complete construction of a house within the local area. Their second, renovations to a home in Garrand, was underway. I asked Inspector Bradley what inspired the latest project, curious to discover how police men and women were gearing up to leave the station and their regular policing duties in aid of a family who need better housing.He explained that he first became acquainted with this family through the investigation of the sudden, unexpected death of 17-year-old Samuel Thomas who was discovered dead within the property approximately three months ago. “Upon arrival at the wooden structure, we realized there were no decent amenities so the police came together to solicit donations to renovate the house,” Bradley said. “We have already begun putting new partitions into the structure, repairing the flooring and today we will be painting and start putting in windows” he added.
The household in question consists of single mother of six, Eldra Thomas, who goes by the name of “Lady L”, and her two daughters and young son. It was also the home of the late Samuel. The renovation plan is to create a comfortable three-bedroom living space.
I took time to speak about Samuel’s passing with one of Lady L’s daughters, who was present on Wednesday. “He went to bed one night and early in the morning I heard him cough three times. I figured he was clearing his throat. At around after eight, I realized he wasn’t up, which was quite unlike him as he is normally up by six in the morning. He was still asleep in the same position. At that point I made a joke and said, ‘Aye aye, Sammy dead’, but just said to myself maybe he is tired,” Lelia told me.
She then explained that up until after ten she believed her brother was still asleep and at that point she became concerned. She went back to check on him, only to discover that he was in the exact same position as before, his arm etched in a particular way, against his hip. When she attempted to move it, his arm remained fixed. At that point she felt the back of his foot and it was ice-cold.
Lelia’s screams then resounded through the neighbourhood and she says that before she knew what was happening, all she saw were ‘’people all over his body.’’
According to Lelia, the pathologist explained that at the point she heard her late brother cough, he was more than likely gasping for breath. Lelia told me she took the incident quite hard and so did her mother who was not home when we spoke. They do not know what really caused the young man’s sudden death; all they know is that his lungs were twice the size they should have been when he died. The autopsy results are not yet concluded.
The grieving mother, her daughter stated, is still often dazed by her loss and is struggling to cope but for now, at least, she can be comforted by the humanitarian gesture of the Babonneau police team, headed by Inspector Bradley, which will make all the family that much more ‘at home’.
I looked on and marveled at seeing the very same police men and women I had earlier encountered at the station now with painting poles and hammers in hand, arduously working indoors and outside in a collective attempt to restore some joy to this family’s life. Lelia, for one, seemed delighted with the work they had completed and, as she explained to me, the renovations are helping them all to deal better with her brother’s passing. She explained that the physical change to the house, particularly the back room in which he died, would help to relieve the memories of that dreadful and sad day.