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Baby dies, woman and infant rescued after car plunges into sea

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A baby drowned yesterday after a car ploughed through a fence and plunged into the sea.

The car, with a woman and two children inside, went into the water at Shark Hole in Hamilton Parish.

Rescuers jumped into the water and freed the woman and the older child after they smashed a rear window and pulled them out.

But it was several minutes before they were able to get the infant — who was strapped in a baby seat in the front passenger seat — from the car.

Passing motorists and two public works ministry staff working near by jumped into the water to rescue the three from the car, which was completely submerged.

The three were taken to hospital but it was later confirmed that the baby had died.

Police said the woman driver and the older child suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

One of the rescuers, Del Hollis, described his frustration as he battled to free the baby.

Mr Hollis, 52, a public works department employee and former Cup Match cricketer, said before the child’s death was announced: “We had got information that a car had went overboard with two kids in the water.

“So me and my work buddy, we were actually working around Wilkinson Avenue, we came and we saw that it was three people, the car was overboard and they’d taken out one kid, and they said there was another kid trapped — a baby — trapped in the front, in the baby seat.

“I was like the fourth person to be in the water but one of the other guys came in and busted the back window for the mama and the older kid to get out the back.

“So that’s how we reacted and jumped overboard. Once we got overboard, because it’s so murky down there nobody could see anything so I sent one of the guys to my job to go get a diving mask.

“Once I got the diving mask I ended up going back down and I was able to actually see the kid but I just couldn’t get him out the seat — I just couldn’t get him out the seat.

“It was like … I don’t know. I tried to open up the door and then it just so happened that his arm came around and I got him to the window. A guy just went down there and took the knife and cut the strap and got the baby out.”

“It’s amazing how people react because there was one individual there who couldn’t even swim, yet he was in the water trying to help to save the kid.

“It was a fireman that broke the back window. That was a good help.”

The scene where a car when overboard today

Mr Hollis said after news of the baby’s death was announced: “We kept pulling and kept pulling. He just wouldn’t come, he just wouldn’t come.

“We tried everything, we done everything. We couldn’t do nothing.”

Jermaine Benjamin, a colleague, added: “It’s depressing. It’s a sad situation. We tried though. We came a distance and we tried.

“We tried our best. We just want to send prayers to the family.”

Mr Benjamin, 49, said they were alerted to the accident by a passing postal worker.

He said: “Once she told us what occupants were in the car, that’s when we started to really take heed and come to the situation.

“We got here, saw what was happening and tried our best — we tried our best. All I can say is, our condolences to the family.

“Everybody that was there, they played their part. They helped out. Everybody tried to do the best they can. It’s just unfortunate this situation happened.

“We just heard what happened and did what we had to do I guess. It’s sad.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police Antoine Daniels later praised the efforts of rescuers.

He said: “I want to take this opportunity to really thank those persons who jumped into the water and risked their own safety to remove the persons from the vehicle. That was very courageous.

“If you know this area, the terrain is quite tough. The water today is choppy and of course cold, so on behalf of the Bermuda Police Service, a really, really big thank you to those persons.

“Once a vehicle goes into the water and is submerged it’s quite difficult to extract people so it’s a difficult exercise. Windows had to be broken and the persons pulled from inside the vehicle.

“They weren’t in possession of scuba-diving equipment so they had to take turns going down into the water and coming back up. It was a team effort.”

Sergeant Scott Quinn, of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, told TNN that when firefighters arrived, members of the public were in the water helping the occupants.

He said: “We received a call of reports that a car was overboard. Firefighters were in the water and we had off-duty firefighters trying to assist as well.

“When we arrived, there were persons in the water trying to help remove people from the vehicle.”

Mr Daniels said that the car was travelling east when the accident happened.

He said: “We’re not really sure how the accident happened. There weren’t any witnesses to the actual accident that we’re aware of.

“Right now the forensic support unit is on the scene as well as our traffic division investigator just trying to find out how this could have happened.”

Susan Jackson, the shadow transport minister, said: “Today's tragic accident is deeply saddening as we mourn the loss of a precious young life.

“The One Bermuda Alliance extends its deepest condolences to the infant's family and we pray for a speedy recovery for the injured family members.

Ms Jackson also thanked the “caring citizens and rescuers who were willing to place themselves in harm's way without a moment's hesitation”.

Renee Ming, the national security minister said in a statement last night: “I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the young child who we tragically lost today.

“This is such a sad day for their family and an emotionally challenging day for all of Bermuda.

“My hope is that in the days ahead, our community will come together and embrace this family with the love and support they need to help them navigate through this truly devastating time.

“I wish to thank the members of the public, who were on the scene, specifically, the personnel from the Ministry of Public Works, and the members of the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service and the Bermuda Police Services for their heroic efforts.

“As the BPS continue to gather information about what transpired, I ask that anyone who may have information about today's incident to please contact the Police.”

A crane lifted the submerged car from the water yesterday afternoon.

Diversions were in force in the Shark Hole area until about 3.30pm.

Road users were rerouted at Paynters Road and Wilkinson Avenue as police continue to examine the scene.

Anyone with any information that could help the police inquiry should call 211 or the main police number on 295-0011.

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Published March 12, 2022 at 7:44 am (Updated March 12, 2022 at 7:44 am)

Baby dies, woman and infant rescued after car plunges into sea

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