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August 23, 2011
Child burns to death in Rabacca house fire

Conflicting stories have emerged following the death of a six-month-old infant in a house fire at Rabacca last week.{{more}}

Vanesha Baptiste, the mother of the child called Carlson, said that she left the deceased and his two-year-old brother Keavin in the care of two men at a neighbor’s house, while she went into Georgetown to pick up something to eat on the night of Wednesday, August 17.

On Sunday, August 21, as SEARCHLIGHT visited the scene, the 18-year-old woman related that after being encouraged to go get some food, she asked a few of her acquaintances to keep an eye on the children until she returned, since she did not want to leave them alone at her home.

“About 11:58 pm, me and me cousin been feeling hungry, so we decide we go buy piece ah fried chicken. My cousin tell me come leh we go and me say who me go leave me kids dem with?

There was four guys there and all of them was from the same neighbourhood and all of we are friends; so I ask them if they go just watch them for a two hours, so I could get piece ah chicken and come back. Them say yes.”

Baptiste said that she took her children from where they lived and took them to the nearby home of one of the men.

She said he also took a half of candle with him and put it on a shelf.

The young mother said that she then returned to her home, got dressed and after heading out, she returned to retrieve her money, then finally left with her cousin.

According to Baptiste, when she decided to return home alone, she was intercepted by some men who forced her to return to Georgetown.

When she finally decided to head home, this time with her cousin and another friend, she was greeted with the news that the house that her children were sleeping in had burned down.

“By the time I reach, the whole thing burn flat.”

Indications are that the two-year-old child, who reached that age last Saturday, managed to escape the burning house unharmed, and attempted to wake the men who were asked to watch him, who were asleep at a nearby house.

By the time the men were able to mobilize, the house was already destroyed and Keavin’s brother was dead.

The young Baptiste says that she is very hurt by the loss of her child and wonders if more could have been done to save him on the fateful night.

She also denied what she dismissed as rumours and speculations that she had left the children to attend karaoke in Georgetown.

“I didn’t go to any karaoke; all I went to do is get some chicken. I did not leave them alone.

I want to know if they (the men) didn’t smell nothing. If they know they wasn’t going to watch the kids, they coulda just say. I think they could have saved him.

I don’t know what I am going to do now. Only God one knows.”

However, persons who say that they were present before and after the fire are contradicting Baptiste’s story.

One individual claimed that at the time Baptiste left home, she was intoxicated.

The individual also alleged that one of the men who was asked to supervise the children was already drunk and was in no position to look after himself, much less another person.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that the men were enticed with alcohol and cigarettes by Baptiste, to look after the children.

Other neighbours were more sympathetic to Baptiste’s plight though, saying that although the tragedy could have been avoided, they felt sorry for the way the baby lost his life.

Boville McBarnette and Christopher Blake, speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, said that the death of baby Carlson was hard on them.

“When I hear the thing, me heart skip a beat. Everybody love the baby; he was a nice baby, very full of life,” McBarnette claimed. “The way it take place is a hard, hard situation.

“Everybody here love the baby. I wish we were here, then we could have helped.” Blake added.

Meanwhile, Joel Williams, the owner of the two-room property that was destroyed, said that he lost everything in the fire, including his clothing, furniture and appliances, and that he did not give anyone permission to use his home, which he shares with his daughter, son and grandson.

“I didn’t send anybody here; they bring children in my place with candle and burn down my place.

“Now I don’t have nowhere to live; I have to beg a lodging with my son.

Everything gone. Everything burn. Now I need help.”