Search for the missing a `difficult job' - Smith

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The family of one of the missing Police workers feared dead at the hands of Hurricane Fabian spoke of their anguish this afternoon as they watched and waited in hope.

Carla Zuill, the step daughter of missing Gladys Saunders, stood with her family at the wrecked Causeway in the East End, where a huge rescue operation had been mounted for the four missing people who had not been seen since yesterday afternoon.

  • Commissioner Jonathan Smith speaks to ovverseas and local media as Premier Alex Scott (second from left) writes while consulting a personal data assistant. Several major media outlets had reporters on the Island for Fabian's arrival.

    Commissioner Jonathan Smith speaks to ovverseas and local media as Premier Alex Scott (second from left) writes while consulting a personal data assistant. Several major media outlets had reporters on the Island for Fabian's arrival.


The family of one of the missing Police workers feared dead at the hands of Hurricane Fabian spoke of their anguish this afternoon as they watched and waited in hope.

Carla Zuill, the step daughter of missing Gladys Saunders, stood with her family at the wrecked Causeway in the East End, where a huge rescue operation had been mounted for the four missing people who had not been seen since yesterday afternoon.

The four people, three of whom worked for Bermuda Police at the St. George's station, were trying to get across the Causeway when hurricane force winds hit the Island, leaving the bridge severely damaged and them stranded.

The Fire Brigade made a desperate attempt to rescue the four, who have not been officially named, but was forced to turn back.

At some point soon afterwards, it is believed the four people were washed over the side, and there has been no trace of them since.

Their two cars were located this morning, but no bodies have been found.

Mrs. Saunders, 48, who worked as a civilian duty officer in St. George's, as well as a Reserve Police officer, had finished her shift at 2 p.m. on Friday and had called her family in Hamilton Parish to say she was on her way home.

It is understood she was in a car with two Police Officers, one of whom was just fresh out of the latest recruitment course, when tragedy struck.

"From what we know, they were trying to come over the Causeway and they got caught - they could not go any further," said Ms Zuill.

"There were two other people, Police officers, in the car with her, and then another person, a Portuguese guy, in another car.

"I know my step mum was coming home, but I don't know what the others were doing. I'm assuming that the officers were bringing her home because she had been riding a bike.

"There was a rescue attempt from the Fire Services, but it was thwarted, so they had no choice but to just sit and wait it out. No one is really sure what happened. We heard that the two cars had been blown overboard."

Ms Zuill said her father, Carlton Saunders, who had been married to her step mum for 20 years, was informed by Police on Friday that his wife was unaccounted for.

From that moment on, he and the couple's three children patiently waited at home for any news, but little was forthcoming.

Yesterday morning, they all made their way to the Causeway, where they could watch the US Coast Guard and Police divers mounting the full scale search.

It is understood that a third vehicle was on the Causeway yesterday when Mrs. Saunders and her colleagues ran into difficulty.

However, the driver of that car managed to make it across the bridge and could only watch as the two vehicles behind him became stranded.

He then witnessed the tragedy unfold.

This afternoon, Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith said Police were carrying out extensive searches of Castle Harbour, Coney Island, Grotto Bay and the airport shoreline.

But he said it was a difficult task.

He said Police were liasing closely with the families, adding: "Searching for colleagues adds an emotional component to an already difficult job."

And Premier Alex Scott talked emotionally about the missing four this afternoon at a press conference. He said: "Risking their own lives at the height of a storm, firefighters made a valiant attempt to save those unaccounted for. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those still missing."

Speaking to The Royal Gazette from the scene of the tragedy this afternoon, Ms Zuill said:

"It's very sombre here. The cars have been found, but they have not been brought up yet, they have just been marked with buoys.

"We are just all here waiting now. My dad is strong. He's sad, but he's accepted that there is a possibility that she may not come back. The family is here with him.

"He's very grateful for the assistance being rendered by the Police and the rescuers. People have been very supportive."

Mrs. Saunders, of Ducks Puddle Drive, who is a sergeant in the Reserves, has a daughter Shanae Robinson, 25, son Antoine Saunders, 22, stepdaughter Carla Zuill, and three granddaughters.

A keen bowler and cook, she was very well-known across the Island and very well-liked.

"She was very determined and she was a very self-assured person," added Ms Zuill.

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