Drowning victim Anneicia Lewis’s aunt Ayoka speaks at her funeral service at her home in Bagatelle Road, Diego Martin, yesterday.

“I loved her dearly from afar.” These were the words from Crystal Lewis who wiped away tears as she recalled her sister’s aggressive zest for life during her funeral service on Saturday. Lewis revealed that she and her sister Anneicia “Smally” Lewis had not been talking to each other at the time of her death. However, she assured while they never seemed to agree, she had nothing but love for Anneicia, 37.

Anneicia left her Bagatelle Road, Diego Martin home on September 3 in the company of a friend as they headed to bathe in the Fond Palmiste River although an adverse weather alert had been in effect for the country. Located a short distance away from Anneicia’s home, family and friends said she was accustomed to going to the river. However, that weekend, heavy rains were expected and flood warnings were issued for the population.

When Anneicia failed to return home a few hours later, a search was launched for her.

Extensive search and rescue operations came to a tragic end two days later when her body was found in the sea around Westmoorings.

It is believed the raging water hampered Anneicia’s effort to cross the river and she was pulled under and swept out to sea.

Lewis said while Anneicia or “Smally”, as she was fondly called throughout the area, was quick to cuss, the sweet, fun-loving mother of one was equally quick to forgive and move on.

While they did not have a planned eulogy, several people including Anneicia’s aunt Ayoka echoed similar sentiments regarding her quick-tempered nature.

Confirming Anneicia had found her way to God despite her love for a drink and a smoke, Ayoka urged the large crowd present to emulate her niece’s ability to forgive and not to hold on to anger and bitterness.

She advised, “This is a good time to reconcile,” and just live for loving others.

Anneicia’s daughter, Elizabeth said despite her mother’s aggressive nature, she was “a loving, caring person” who would always be remembered for cooking her delicious meals. Elizabeth broke down as she said, “She never left me behind.”

Close friend and nearby resident Gillian recalled the disbelief and shock after learning Anneicia had gone missing.

Their two daughters attended primary school together and she shared her encounters with Anneicia as they attended Parent-Teacher meetings and Anneicia would give her strict instructions not to “ask too much questions.”

Following the service at the house, Anneicia’s body was taken to the spot where she would have entered the river.

Despite the Public Health Regulations in effect, scores of people turned out to pay their respects and followed the hearse playing Anneicia’s favourite tunes. There was a party-like atmosphere as people gathered on the street drinking and smoking.

Anneicia was later laid to rest at the Carenage Cemetery.