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Tributes paid to ‘charming’ road crash victim

Much loved: Rhyn Bearden was a popular member of staff at the Baptiste hardware store in Warwick (Photograph supplied)

Tributes have been paid to a former Warwick Academy student who was killed in a road traffic crash last week.

Rhyn Bearden, 23, was described as “a bubbly, people person” and “a credit to his family”.

Mr Bearden died after his motorcycle was in collision with a truck on Khyber Pass in Warwick last Thursday morning. His death was the second road fatality of the year.

Mr Bearden’s aunt, Sonya Oliveira, said that her nephew was well known and popular in the neighbourhood, and was “a customer favourite” at the family-owned hardware store Baptiste, where he worked as a salesman.

Ms Oliveira said: “Rhyn never met a stranger. He could be in a foreign country, not know the language and yet still instantly connect with people and engage with them — he was that sort of person.”

Mr Bearden had worked at the store for the past year after spending time overseas.

Ms Oliveira said: “He worked all sections of the business and knew every department, from sweeping floors; he trained in everything. But in sales he really found his niche. Everyone knew him. He was the customers’ favourite because he just had this bubbly people-person personality.”

Ms Oliveira explained that her nephew was on his way to work on Thursday morning when the crash happened.

She said: “That’s the tragedy of it — he was just metres away from where he was going when it happened.

“Everyone in the neighbourhood knew Rhyn and a lot of people are feeling his loss. People look down at the guys who hang around under the rubber tree, but they were the first to hug my sister when they learnt what had happened. Everyone has been so incredibly kind.”

Further tributes were given by staff at Warwick Academy. Mr Bearden graduated from the school in 2019.

Teacher Abena Okanta- Ofora said she had special memories of her former student.

She said: “As a member of our home room, Rhyn had a big heart and an even bigger smile. He was genuine and generous, with infectious enthusiasm.

“Always charming and much loved, Rhyn was a big part of our daily lives and had many an entertaining story to tell us about his adventures.

“I recently saw Rhyn at an Easter gathering, and it was so lovely to see him and talk to him again. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends from the Warwick Academy family. Rhyn will for ever be in our hearts.”

Deputy head of primary Susan Sousa said: “Rhyn made his presence known from the minute he entered the Warwick Academy gates. He was a larger-than-life character whose smile lit up every room.

“He enjoyed participating in class discussions and learning but above all, he took pleasure in connecting with his friends, of which there were many. As a child, Rhyn would return from field play completely dishevelled, sweaty and messy, all indicative of thoroughly enjoying his play time with friends.

“Bermuda is a very transient island and Rhyn was eager to meet and enthusiastically welcome all new students to Warwick Academy and lovingly wish them well when children relocated. Consequently, Rhyn’s charismatic character has afforded him friendships the world over.

“Rhyn was loved by his classmates and remembered fondly by so many current and former staff. We have had messages from around the world expressing their disbelief and extending condolences to the family.

“He is fondly remembered. His teachers and contemporaries the world over are absolutely heartbroken over his untimely and tragic passing.”

Another Warwick Academy teacher, Shelly Grace, taught Mr Bearden’s mother and aunts when they had attended the school.

Ms Grace said: “I wasn't sure what to expect when I heard I was teaching the next generation. It turned out to be a very enjoyable experience.

“Rhyn was a perfect balance between cheekiness and innocence. He was always happy-go-lucky and participated with honesty during the lessons, managing to ask some memorable questions that still make me laugh.

“Always polite, he was a pleasure to know and teach, and a credit to his family.”

Police said yesterday that the cause of the crash was still under investigation.

A police spokesman said: “Mr Bearden died in hospital on Thursday morning after the motorcycle he was riding collided with a truck and a wall around 9am.

“A BPS family liaison officer is providing relevant support to Mr Bearden’s family.

“The Roads Policing Unit continues to investigate this road fatality and renews the appeal for any witnesses that have not already come forward, or anyone with any relevant information, to call 247-1788.

“Alternatively, please share any information that you may have with a police officer you’re familiar with.”

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Published May 02, 2024 at 7:58 am (Updated May 02, 2024 at 7:58 am)

Tributes paid to ‘charming’ road crash victim

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