5.50pm UPDATE: Officials have confirmed that the body of Blair John was pulled from the river Po on Wednesday morning. More news to come.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A BAHAMIAN diplomat has been found dead in an Italian river while police there have begun searching for another Bahamian man reported missing.
The body of foreign service officer Alrae Ramsey, 29, was found floating in waters of the Po river in Turin.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) chairman Fred Mitchell, former minister of foreign affairs, hailed Ramsey in a statement as a “brilliant young man, full of hope and promise”.
The missing man is Blair John. Mr John’s mother, Cathleen Rahming, told The Tribune her son travelled to Italy from Canada recently to speak at a psychology conference. She said her family remains hopeful he will be found safe.
Multiple Italian news organisations reported that police saw no signs of foul play but noted that Ramsey had head wounds consistent with a fall.
The Italian newspaper Courier Torino –– whose Italian language The Tribune has translated here to English –– wrote: “A Bahamian diplomat was the man found dead today, Tuesday, in Turin in the waters of the Po river, at the Isabella bridge. He was 29 years old. On the head the corpse presents a wound that the police investigators, interviewed on the spot, hypothesise was sustained in the fall. The body had been in water for two or three days. The alarm was given by a passer-by who noticed the corpse on the river. The mobile police squad investigates the case. From the first investigations no evident signs of violence on the corpse would emerge.”
Another Italian newspaper, la Repubblica, reported that firefighters recovered the body. “The young man,” the report said, “was passing through Turin, in the company of a boy who is missing. The two were staying in a city B&B (bed and breakfast)…We have not heard from (the) fellow traveler, aged 28, for 3-4 days, the date on which the 29-year-old died. The two, from what we learn, had arranged to meet in Turin, where they would arrive on 28 May.”
Ramsey was a former student of Saint Augustine’s College. A source said he was on study leave in Vienna and went to Turin on a holiday. His family declined to comment when contacted yesterday but The Tribune understands the last time family communicated with either man was last week Thursday.
Ms Rahming, the mother of Mr John, said she has representatives in Italy trying to find her son.
“We remain hopeful, prayerful and I am believing God will bring him back safely,” she said. “I’m going to stay positive and that’s what I’m going to hold on to unless I hear otherwise.
“There are some persons connected to me who are on the ground, they are keeping me updated. I have some information but I’m not at liberty to disclose it but I have persons there that are in communication with me, they have had contact with the authorities so I have up to date information but at this moment I would like to keep everything under wraps because we don’t know where my son is.”
Ms Rahming said her son went to Italy to deliver a presentation.
“He is a psychology PhD major and he was representing the university and went over there to communicate his research at the conference,” she said. “He was selected based on his worth ethic, his grades, among other things to represent the university.”
Mr John’s Linkedin page notes he is a junior consultant at the CN Centre for Occupational Health & Safety in Canada at Saint Mary’s University. He is a psychology graduate student pursuing a PhD at that university.
For his part, Mr Mitchell said the country has lost a diplomat with a promising future.
“I am devastated and I have a deep sense of sadness and loss at the news that Italian authorities have identified the Bahamian diplomat Alrae Ramsey as dead, found in waters in Turin, Italy,” he said. “The report is that another young Bahamian is missing. I am lost for words that a young man with such promise has left us. I worked closely with him throughout his career as a diplomat. He was a brilliant young man, full of hope and promise. A fine example of the most probing young people of his generation. We have an obligation to find out what happened. I remember Mr Ramsey’s great work in the first campaign for the Bahamas to be elected to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. I have reached out to the foreign minister and my former colleagues to express my shock and sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two young men. On behalf of the Progressive Liberal Party, I offer our prayerful support.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that representatives have been sent to Turin to verify the facts of the matter.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of reports circulating regarding two young Bahamian men, who have been reported missing in Turin, Italy,” the statement said. “Newspapers are reporting the discovery of the body of a male believed to be a Bahamian, which was pulled from the river in the area of the Isabella Bridge in Turin. The ministry is investigating this matter with the appropriate authorities in Turin, as well as with Bahamian authorities. A senior diplomat from the Bahamas High Commission in London has been sent to Turin to speak with police and other officials, in order to verify the facts. The ministry is in close contact with the family of the two young men. Our prayers and thoughts are with both families at this time.”