Grandmother wails for 4-year-old who died after being locked in a car
Paula Downer wailed for belly pains as reality set in that her grandson, four-year-old Jordane Clarke, would not be coming home after he was sent to school for what should have been a day of fun and frolic for Jamaica Day celebrations on Thursday.
But the grounds of the Destowe Bennett Early Childhood Centre in Rollington Town, Kingston, where young Jordane’s body was found locked in a car in the sweltering afternoon heat, was like a ghost town when a Gleaner team visited the community Friday morning, where parents were spotted returning home with their children.
As news spread of the horrific discovery of the boy’s body by his teacher, residents who spoke with The Gleaner yesterday reported that a woman was seen running to the school with her slippers in-hand, alerting them to the gravity of the unfolding situation.
Talking with The Gleaner at her home in Bower Bank, Kingston, on Friday, the 44-year-old grandmother cried as she explained that by the time she got to the school, her grandson had already been rushed to the Bustamante Hospital for Children, where he was pronounced dead.
Downer, who would normally walk with her grandson to school, explained that she had taken up the offer from the boy’s teacher to pick him up on the way, a favour which the teacher extended to several other children at the school.
“From one o’clock yesterday (Thursday) mi nuh eat, mi belly a burn mi,” the distraught woman bawled.
“Mi dress him up send him to school because yesterday (Thursday) was Jamaica Day. When she come, mi give har him lunch money fi buy jerk chicken and send mi grandson wid har and now him gone.”
She continued, “When I go to di hospital, di teacher telling me that she think him come out a di car with the rest of the kids. She cyah tell mi she never miss him for so much hours and don’t call me or mi daughter.
“She go again and say she think he was outside playing. Is not until when she guh and open the car, she say mi baby drop out,” the distressed woman bellowed in a series of tear-jerking rants.
The boy’s mother, 21-year-old Abigail Beckford, has been under the watchful eye of relatives, Downer explained, as her daughter’s mental state deteriorated after hearing of her son’s death.
Dealing with guilt
In addition to her own grief, the grandmother, who suffers from hypertension, said she is also now battling guilt as her daughter has questioned her judgement in letting her son go to school with his teacher.
“Mi have fi send her to stay with my sister because she say she cyah stay in the house with his things lying around the place,” said Downer, her body losing strength as she pointed to the boy’s bicycle parked in the corner of his room.
“Last night him have it a ride up and down in here, and when him done him say ‘Grandma, mi a guh a mi bed now’.”
“And right now mi daughter nah talk to mi cause she say a me mek him go with di teacher. But mi a try ease him up from di walking, and is just di second time mi mek Jay go wid har. But it look like mi send him wid di wrong person,” Downer lamented.
A police investigation into the boy’s death is currently under way, the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force has confirmed. It was not confirmed, however, whether the teacher had been charged.
Meanwhile, neighbours who gathered to give their support to the grieving family, remembered young Jordane who was known affectionately as Jay, as a quiet child with a bright smile.
“If yuh see Jay sitting down and say hello to him, him just shake him head and give yuh a big smile,” one elderly woman said, expressing empathy to Downer as she, too, is a grandmother.
“I have my grandchildren, so mi know how she must feel. That little boy was so sweet and quiet, him never give nuh trouble,” the tear-stained woman said.