—Radhica De Silva
As floodwaters subsided in South and East Trinidad, search teams last night called off the search for Anthony Walkes who was swept away by raging floodwaters in Williamsville.
After 12 hours of searching along the periphery of the Guaracara River, the search was abandoned at 4 pm, with a promise to relatives that it will resume at dawn on Wednesday.
In an interview with Guardian Media, nephew Dion Walkes said they were still hopeful that Walkes was alive.
“It is very strange that we have not found him. We searched through Ecclesville and down the river and we did not find him,” Walkes said.
He said the Guaracara River had been a source of misery to many residents as it had not been dredged for years.
“Trees are growing in the river and bamboo patch. If he drowned, his body could have hooked up anywhere along the river. We just have not found him. Or he could have escaped and is still alive,” Dion said.
He explained that fire officers, the Defence Force, police and Coast Guard had assisted the relatives in the search.
“We are grateful for their help and they are doing a good job,” Dion said.
He explained that his uncle was mentality challenged and would sometimes spend days at the St Ann’s Hospital.
He said the family was very protective of him.
“On Monday I saw him out the road and I told him to let me drop him back because the road was wet,” Dion recalled.
However, he said Walkes had a friend who was a straightener and he loved to visit him to watch him work.
“When he crossed the bridge the water was low but then the rains started to fall very hard and the water started to rise,” Dion said.
He explained that Walkes took a chance at crossing the river.
“Like he didn’t realize how powerful the floods currents were. While he was on the road, the flood water started to push him into the river. He had nothing to hold on to. If he was on the bridge, he could have held on to the railing,” Dion said.
Walkes sister Merlyn Walkes and his nephew Darrel Walkes also joined in the search.
“He is a very loving and nice person. He loves to give. He never married and has no children. He used to work Caroni but then he got sick so he gets public assistance,” Merlyn said.
Meanwhile, Dave Harryram who saw Walkes being swept away by the water, said the incident had left him traumatized.
“It was about 2:30 and I see Tony pass and gone back inside the trace but when he was coming out, the water was too high. By the time I spin around I see Anthony gone up in the water and then he gone down. He disappear in the water,” Harryram said.
He said it was painful that he could do nothing to help.
“It wasn’t nice to see that. I could do nothing to help him. I could do nothing. By the time I run from the road quite by the road, he was done going down. That wasn’t easy,” he said.
The search for Walkes will continue today.
Officers of the Princes Town and Gasparillo police stations are continuing investigations.