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‘Death sentence’ for parents who lost son

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Malik Weeks with father Michael Weeks

The pain of the loss of their son after a Christmas Day bike crash was “a death sentence” for Terrylynn Doyle and Michael Weeks.

Ms Doyle said there was nothing that compared to her and Mr Weeks’s grief after 24-year-old Malik Weeks died just hours after the 2012 incident.

She added: “It is difficult to explain. You have to go on with your life, but it’s a death sentence for parents and a death sentence for the families.

“Is there anything that compares to it? No, absolutely not, nothing. The crazy thing about it is you can’t reconcile your mind to that type of loss.”

Ms Doyle added: “The first few years I had a lot of health issues. Five years later, I am not having these severe physical ailments, but I still have the emotional breakdowns — I just manage it better.

“I still have those impromptu moments where I can’t suppress it when I see someone that looks like him, walks like him, one of his classmates or it could be Maeisha [Malik’s daughter] doing something — the genes are so strong.”

Mr Weeks, the Government Whip, was at his son’s side when he died in the early hours of Boxing Day five years ago.

Ms Doyle, who was in Barbados on holiday with her second husband, faced a heartbreaking journey home after the news was broken to her.

Mr Weeks said that he was waiting for Malik to return home when he got the call every parent dreads and was told his son had been hurt in a crash and was on his way to hospital.

He added: “I remember it minute by minute. At 11.15pm I got a call. I thought it was him telling me he was on his way, but it was a police officer telling me to get to the hospital. I beat him there and they were taking him out of the ambulance.

“He was breathing hard, but he didn’t have any visible injuries — just a little nick on his knee. He couldn’t talk and he was unconscious but it didn’t seem critical until the doctor had to rush him to X-ray.

“Suddenly, they had to rush him back. They told everyone to get out of the room but I refused to go. I said I’m going to stand right here and watch you do what you have got to do.

“When Malik was pronounced dead, I stayed in the room looking over him, with everybody coming and going. The doctor asked if they could take him now and I said ‘yeah’. That was one of the hardest things in my life.”

Malik was riding home on Christmas night when he was involved in a single-vehicle crash on North Shore Road in Hamilton Parish.

The family said he was devoted to his daughter and planning which career direction to take.

They added he was a promising student and keen sports fan with a ready smile and a respectful manner.

It was standing room only at his funeral at the First Church of God on North Shore Road and the pastor, the Right Reverend Vernon Lambe, said he had never seen so many mourners for one so young.

Ms Doyle said: “From jump, he was special. He was a happy child, he was very smart and he was affectionate. When his friends came over, he would say ‘did you guys speak to my momma?’ If he was leaving the house, he would say ‘I love you’ whether his friends were there or not.

“He really made an impression on one of his friends who was going through a tough time. Malik had tried to help him get a job because he had a child as well.”

Malik left behind not only his parents and a child, but sister Maeisha and brothers Marcus and Dalji.

Mr Weeks said he had to stay strong for his family and did not allow himself to deal with his own emotions for about a year, but there was one moment where the façade broke.

He choked back tears when he said: “One thing that broke my heart was when my granddaughter said to me ‘papa, can you be my daddy now?’

“You can see that still affects me. I don’t leave the island without first going to his graveside. It’s little things that keep me going.”

Ms Doyle, who turned out for the launch of The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign almost two weeks ago, said drivers and riders should consider the wider effects of poor driving and bad decisions.

She said: “Practise common sense and if you don’t care about yourselves, think about the people you leave behind. Malik won’t see his daughter graduate, walk her down the aisle or see her go to college — it’s hard.”

There was no obvious reason for Malik’s crash. Mr Weeks and Ms Doyle said that Bermuda’s roads were a serious hazard and immediate changes were needed to improve safety.

Mr Weeks said: “Other places have put things in place for roadside sobriety testing and speed cameras.

“Mr Anthony Santucci at Cada has been calling for roadside sobriety testing and speed cameras for years now.

“How many more are going to die before we say it is a state of emergency? There are too many parents who are losing their sons and not enough is being done.

“Is that an indictment on us as politicians? Yes, regardless of which party is in government because these roads are constantly taking our children.

“This is becoming the norm. We keep having the dialogue of ‘what are we going to do?’

“Now is the time for us to say enough is enough — what legislation are we going to put in place?”

Campaign interview with Michael Weeks and Terrylynn Doyle (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Family man: Malik Weeks with his parents, siblings and daughter. Pictured from left, back row: mother Terrylynn Doyle and father Michael Weeks. Middle row: brother Dalji Waldron, Malik Weeks holding daughter Maeisha Weeks, sister Maeisha Ebone’ Weeks, brother Marcus Weeks, grandfather Leonard Ible Jr, and in front, grandmother Annette Ible (Photograph supplied)
Malik Weeks
Malik Weeks pictured with his daughter, Maeisha, and her mother, Chanelle Martin
Malik Weeks