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No lifeguards at time of Maracas drowning

Published: 
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

National Union of Government and Federal Workers’ Union Lifeguard branch president Augustus Sylvester says Monday’s drowning of Renald Ambrose at Maracas Beach could have been prevented if the necessary staff was in place.

Ambrose, 67, died after he got into difficulty in the rough waters at the beach.

The Meteorological Service had warned that there would be rough seas and waves reaching 12 feet in height during the Carnival period.

In an interview yesterday, Sylvester said at this time of year, there were always strong currents at the beach, but that did not stop beachgoers from flocking there.

However, he said, despite this they did not have the numbers to provide an adequate service to people who flocked to the most popular beach in the country during the festive season.

“We have early morning to late at night staff, but this year that was not put in place because of the lack of administrative staff,” he claimed.

Sylvester said at the time Ambrose was in the water, lifeguard Marlon Deosaran had just reported for duty and managed to rush to assist.

He said the normal start time for duty was 10 am but Deosaran arrived early.

Michael Pierre, owner of Uncle Sam’s Bar, and a former lifeguard, rushed to rescue Ambrose after beachgoers ran to his establishment seeking help.

Pierre said at the time, no lifeguards were around and he rushed into the rough waters to assist Ambrose, who was yards out in open waters.

“Somebody ran across saying somebody drowning and I thought the lifeguards were there. I did not see anybody and I went out and I saw the distance and I say not me. He was floating over 300 yards out beyond the breakers,” Pierre said.

He said eventually he reconsidered his stance.

“I said nah, I resigned 20 years now as a lifeguard and I saved over 360 lives but it is a life and no money can’t pay for life,” he said.

Pierre said he then took a bodyboard a beachgoer had.

“I snatched the board but it broke. This could be a family man, I said I just have to rescue this man,” Pierre said.

He said while in the water he realised he was being followed by a lifeguard.

“That’s when I saw it have 500 yards more. We caught the man and he (Ambrose) sort of give up and couldn’t hold up. He was conscious and then got away from us. The water was rough and when I got him back he was unconscious,” Pierre said.

Pierre said he and Deosaran eventually got Ambrose to the beach where they started cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Ambrose was then taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

“I was sad and shaken up over it,” Pierre said.

Last week, the National Security Ministry, said the ministry was working to improve the lifeguards’ working conditions.

“The Ministry of National Security HR unit continues to treat with the issues of lifeguards and continue to explore ways to improve the conditions of all workers, including lifeguards, even in the face of harsh economic times,” a release said.

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