After Hurricane Dorian, the stories were horrific.
Day by day, The Tribune catalogued what people went through during the storm and in its aftermath. Some of the things that people faced took the breath away – a horror that those of us who weren’t there can barely imagine.
Imagine then what the first rescuers had to deal with.
Venturing out in still dangerous conditions, not knowing how many people they would find alive, not knowing how many dead bodies they would see. Indeed, not knowing whether their own lives would be at risk as they waded through flood waters, searched through devastated buildings, risked disease as well as physical injury.
“You have made me proud,” said Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday of all those who served on the frontline or helped in the aftermath, “You have made your country proud.”
Every person who went to Abaco and Grand Bahama – and those already there – may have contributed to keeping someone alive.
As we enter this Christmas season, for those of us who have relatives who went through the worst of the hurricane, as you hold them a little tighter and thank God for their survival – thank too the rescuers who played a part in getting them to safety.
“The bigger story,” said Dr Minnis, “is about the many public officers and agency workers on the ground throughout Abaco and Grand Bahama, who came to the rescue of fellow citizens, who helped to maintain law and order, who showed courage in the midst of a terrible crisis.”
There will certainly be things that could have been done better after the storm – and that is for us to learn before we face any future hurricanes – but that has nothing to do with the bravery of the people on the ground.
They are heroes. It is fair to say they deserve a medal.
So why not give them one? Why not create a medal for service, just as there are medals elsewhere in the world for individual battles – but this one for saving lives?
A medal for our Dorian heroes, that they may be united in a bond over the years, a fellowship that will help them through in the dark days when they remember the horrors they saw.
We raise our voice alongside that of Dr Minnis. To the heroes, you have made us all proud.
Change the law - and don’t drink under the influence
The facts are shocking. A pilot was high and drunk when he got behind the wheel of a car, and hit and killed a father walking in the street. Worse, if there could be worse, he then fled the scene, trying to get away with his crime. He didn’t get very far, crashing into a utility pole further down the road.
So what’s the penalty? A year in prison. A fine of $11,400.
What kind of justice is that for a family who have lost their 55-year-old father. He is gone from their lives for ever. He will not be with them this Christmas. The man responsible for his death will be back home for next Christmas.
Leaving the scene suggests he knew he was in the wrong. Being a pilot, he should also have known better than most the dangers of using a vehicle while under the influence. He had alcohol and marijuana in the system. Yet he chose to get behind the wheel rather than call a taxi. And he hit and killed a man. He didn’t even have a licensed vehicle or third party insurance.
The family of victim Clarence Bodie are entitled to feel despair. Despair at a system that leaves them with so little.
The magistrate pointed out an increasing trend of people leaving the scene after crashes. Well, let’s stop it. Change the law. Increase the penalties. If we can change the law to stop people using mobile phones while driving, we can certainly increase the sentences for killing while driving under the influence and leaving the scene.
There is one more thing we should learn from this. Every reader who is horrified reading about this case, please remember over the festive season: Don’t take a chance. Don’t drink and drive. Taxi drivers will take you home safe and sound. Don’t risk your life. And don’t destroy someone else’s.