Bravery rewarded

The
drive back to their office on Thursday, March 10, 2022 was uneventful for four co-workers until they noticed what they determined was suspicious activity inside a Toyota Probox taxi at the intersection of Mountain View and Tucker avenues in St Andrew near the National Stadium.

A schoolgirl, who was the lone passenger inside the taxi, was being held by her neck by the driver.

The co-workers, who wanted to be identified only by their nicknames — Clarky, Suddy, Cede and Tash — also noticed that one of the girl’s legs was hanging outside the vehicle while it was still in motion.

“Follow him! Follow him!” Suddy, Cede and Tash shouted at Clarky, who was driving.

“The whole a wi get panic and realise seh something serious a gwaan, a nuh joke thing. Wi just did a drive and in my mind mi did a hope fi see a [police] radio car fi get the attention,” Clarky told the Jamaica Observer.

“All I could think of is that we can’t allow that to happen; it’s a child. Especially when I saw her foot with her socks, we all panicked, we were all trying to save the individual,” said Suddy.

Tash acknowledged that even though she panicked as they pursued the taxi, she was hell-bent on saving the little girl’s life.

“I had to calm down and I called 119. In my mind he could leave and we don’t catch him. I was saying ‘Clarky, blow him’, and at the time my hand was already on the horn pressing, because I wanted to alert him to say ‘Hey, we see you’,” she related.

“Since it was a red plate taxi, we didn’t know if it was stolen. I guess he realised, based on how he responded [that we saw what was happening] and that’s when he pulled off the road and pushed her out the vehicle,” said Tash.

Cede chimed in, “Our ultimate goal was to see how best we could have at least saved the child because, obviously, from what was happening, it just came off naturally that it was a kidnapping.”

The four said they were relieved when the taxi driver threw the girl, who turned out to be 12 years old, from the vehicle. They took her to a police station where the attempted kidnapping was reported.

Tash told the Observer that she was going through a wave of emotions, especially since she had intended to pick up her daughter from school that day.

“With all the kidnappings going on, in my mind I am happy this is the outcome. When he pushed her out the vehicle we stopped and my first question to her was ‘Do you know him?’ Because I didn’t know the relationship, and you know you have some schoolgirls who are involved with taxi men, but she told me ‘No’.”

Suddy shared that she broke down in tears at the police station, as she recalled the traumatic experience.

“I was hoping she wasn’t hurt. The brunt of everything took me when I reached the station; I actually started to cry and my colleague was telling me to calm down, but everything was so overwhelming I just burst into tears. It was really traumatic for me,” she said.

Cede said she was happy after realising that the girl was not hurt.

“I was glad it ended that way, because I can even remember when we were at the police station and Clarky said to me, ‘Suppose him did have a gun, yuh think ’bout weh wi do a while ago?’ It could have ended in tragedy,” said Cede.

Clarky, who noted that the women pushed him to gain the courage to chase the taxi, said, “If it was me alone mi wouldn’t do it, I probably would have been scared.”

For their bravery in preventing the abduction, Clarky, Suddy, Cede and Tash will this morning be presented with the Badge of Honour for Gallantry during the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards at King’s House in St Andrew.

Although the four said they were not expecting awards, they expressed much gratitude for being recognised for their effort.

They also encouraged Jamaicans to be more aware of their surroundings in order to offer help during times of trouble.

“I have a good feeling about it. It wasn’t about getting the award, it was about helping someone, it’s just a part of me,” Suddy told the Observer.

“Someone at church said to me ‘Sis, you have laid up so much lumber in heaven to build your mansion, this is just one more piece of lumber’,” she added.

Noting that there’s always a window of opportunity in all circumstances, Tash said, “Sometimes that one fighting chance you have — use it, because that’s the opportunity you get between life and death.”

Clarky, now exhibiting pride, said, “It’s as if I am more observant. Mi feel good. Mi neva did a look fi nothing, wi just do it and glad she alright.”

At the same time, Cede said, “I am elated. You have to be alert and be your brother’s keeper.”

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