THE NATIONAL ADDRESS IN FULL
MY fellow Bahamians and residents, good evening. Yesterday's celebration of Bahamian workers during the annual Labour Day march took a tragic turn leaving four loved ones dead. Approximately two dozen people were injured. The Royal Bahamas Police Force and other relevant authorities are investigating the matter.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force will report their findings and what subsequent actions may be taken in the wake of this tragedy. But today we grieve the dead and we comfort those who have lost their loved ones.
Earlier today, accompanied by Doctor the Honourable Duane Sands, Minister of Health, Senator the Honourable Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour and Bishop Delton Fernander, president of the Bahamas Christian Council we visited the families of Tabitha Shelley Haye, Katherine Augusta Fernander, Tami Patrice Gibson and Diane Elizabeth Gray-Ferguson. We also visited with two individuals admitted at Doctors Hospital and two at Princess Margaret Hospital and spoke with their physicians. All others admitted to hospital have since been discharged. We heard many wonderful stories about these fine women who each in their own way contributed to our country.
No words can begin to describe the heartbreak and loss felt by their spouses, children, parents, families, friends and colleagues of Tabitha, Katherine, Tammy and Diane.
I assured the families of the deceased of the support of all of us during the many difficult days ahead. In times like these we ask why, but there are no easy answers in life. So, we must rely on our faith and our loved ones. St Paul reminds us in Romans Chapter 8, Verse 38 through 39: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus Our Lord."
I ask to support these families and to pray for them. I also ask all churches throughout the country to offer special prayers for the deceased and their families as well as for those who were injured yesterday and their families.
We pray that the physical wounds of the injured will heal in time but we know that the psychological, emotional and spiritual wounds caused by yesterday's tragedy and the subsequent traumatic stress and pain will require different kinds of healings.
In the midst of this tragedy, we saw many acts of love and generosity. I want to thank the march participants, first responders, onlookers and the professional teams at the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Doctors Hospital who worked with great compassion and urgency to care for the deceased and the injured.I commend all those who came to the aid of those affected by this tragedy. I thank the various government ministers and officials who quickly responded throughout yesterday.
We will continue to offer care and support to those in need of assistance. As I said yesterday we are committed to doing all that we can to assist the family members of the deceased and those injured and their families. And as our union leaders and workers demonstrated during yesterday's march we are one people united in love.
We will be united in this time of tragedy and suffering. Let us demonstrate this love through our prayers and acts of generosity for those who need our comfort and care during this difficult time.
Once again on behalf of the people and government of The Bahamas and on my own behalf - and that of my wife Patricia - I extend heartfelt condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those who lost their lives yesterday.
May God bring consolation to the bereaved at this time and may he continue to bless our Bahamas.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
A DAY after he visited the victims of the Labour Day Parade tragedy, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis told The Tribune yesterday that Cabinet will discuss the level of government involvement needed in the wake of a national tragedy with the aim of developing a policy.
However, he said on Friday that the government is committed to doing "all that we can to assist the family members of the deceased and those injured and their families".
Referring to both the tragic traffic accident at Friday's Labour Day Parade and the fatal January North Andros plane crash, Dr Minnis said yesterday whatever Cabinet decides will be "policy moving forward."
The annual Labour Day Parade turned calamitous when an unmanned truck struck a crowd of people Friday morning, leaving four women dead and two dozen people injured.
On Saturday, Dr Minnis visited victims in hospital and the families of the deceased. The deceased are Dianne Elizabeth Gray-Ferguson, 55; Kathleen Augusta Fernander, 51; Tabitha Charlene Haye, 41; and Tami Patrice Gibson, 48.
The prime minister also delivered a national address that aired on Saturday night on ZNS.
During his televised remarks, he offered condolences, called for national unity, and promised support to the families of the victims.
When asked yesterday if the government plans to do anything special for the victims of the Labour Day parade incident, Dr Minnis said the matter would be discussed on Tuesday.
"We have Cabinet on Tuesday and we will discuss that at length as to government involvement," he told The Tribune after a NEMA church service.
"As you know we had another tragedy when you had the plane crash going to Andros and there were quite a number of individuals that had died in that plane crash. That's still under investigation.
"So, I think the matter has to be discussed at Cabinet. Because whatever we come out with, it'll be a policy moving forward."
Dr Minnis explained that the policy will be in response to tragic events.
On January 17, a Piper Aztec plane flying from North Andros to Nassau crashed shortly after take-off. All six people aboard were killed in the accident.
On January 26, a memorial ceremony was held for the victims. It was attended by Dr Minnis, Cabinet members, Leader of the Official Opposition Philip Davis, and a number of other government officials.
When asked if he foresees a similar event being held for the Labour Day Parade accident victims, Dr Minnis reiterated that there would be a response after Cabinet.
"Yeah, but you must remember that (memorial) was organised by the community. The community had organised that," Dr Minnis said.
"And therefore, one has to discuss these matters at a Cabinet level because as I've said, whatever is done will be policy moving forward."
On Saturday, the prime minister and a delegation visited the families of those who died during the Labour Day Parade accident.
He was accompanied by Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander, and state media agency Bahamas Information Services (BIS). Private media agencies were not invited to accompany the prime minister.
According to a BIS report, during his visits, the prime minister offered condolences and Bishop Fernander prayed with the families.
Dr Minnis also visited Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctors Hospital to visit the injured victims who were in hospital at the time.
Two were admitted at each hospital, and the prime minister and his delegation also spoke with the victims' physicians. The Tribune understands only one victim remains in hospital.
"The families of the deceased and the recovering victims in hospital responded overwhelmingly to the visits by the prime minister and his team, indicating that the gesture 'cheered' them up after facing such an ordeal," the BIS article stated.
In his national address, Dr Minnis said police and "other relevant authorities" are investigating the incident and will report "what subsequent actions will be taken in the wake of this tragedy."
"No words can begin to describe the heartbreak and the loss felt by their spouses, children, parents, families, friends and colleagues of Tabitha, Kathleen, Tami and Diane," Dr Minnis told the nation.
"I assured the families of the deceased of the support of all of us during the many difficult days ahead.
"As I said yesterday (Friday, June 1) we are committed to doing all that we can to assist the family members of the deceased and those injured and their families," he said Saturday.
"As our union leaders and workers demonstrated during yesterday's march, we are one people united in love," Dr Minnis added.
"We will be united in this time of tragedy and suffering."