A parliamentary staff retreat to Number 63 Beach, Berbice halted tragically yesterday when an employee who had been warned to stay away from the waters drowned.
The body of Trevor Balgobin, aged 31 years of North Road, Bourda, was pulled from the water hours after he had disappeared while swimming. Prior to him entering the water and going under, Balgobin had been pulled out twice by colleagues.
Some five hours after he disappeared in the water and a massive search had ensued, Balgobin’s body was found. He was found at the same spot where he went down, but initial attempts to find him there were unsuccessful.
Stunned by the loss, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs briefly commented yesterday that the staff was deeply affected. He said that thirty employees went up for the trip, but that they were returning to the city one less in number.
Reports are that Balgobin, who was an office assistant at parliament, knew how to swim but was not a strong swimmer, and he was attempting to swim further out to a flagpole in the water when he disappeared.
Lorraine Pluck, Public Relations Officer at Parliament told Stabroek News yesterday that the retreat was meant to offer staff a period of relaxation following a demanding work schedule within the past month. She said that the parliamentary staff had put in extra hours during the budget debate, adding that many had worked past midnight on several occasions.
The decision to retreat to Berbice was taken because the staff wanted to get out of the city, Pluck said. She related that they just wanted to be somewhere different and Number 63 Beach was singled out.
According to her, the day started off well and everyone was having a good time when they arrived. However, she said that Balgobin seemed drawn to the water and decided to take a swim very early. She said that many of the staff there agreed that a swim at that time was not a good idea because they were all soaking up the sun so Balgobin was eventually pulled out.
Pluck said that Balgobin went back in a second time and was again pulled out by staff because they were enjoying some ‘catch up’ time. She said that he came out of the water and had a few drinks, but within a short period he decided to go back in despite pleas to stay out.
“He wanted to swim and on the last occasion when he went back in we were all keeping an eye on him, everyone decided to follow his movements in the water,” she said.
While in the water Balgobin played around a bit and appeared to be okay. He then started swimming further out in the direction of a flagpole when colleagues became alarmed and started shouting for him to turn back.
Pluck said that she raised an alarm after Balgobin started swimming further out fearing that he might have been in danger. But when the others looked up and started advancing to the water he had already disappeared. According to her, it was very sudden.
The police were alerted and together with the staff a massive search got underway. For hours everyone stood tense and worried on the beach, some hoping and praying that Balgobin was okay. But he came up dead hours later.
Persaud’s Funeral home at Number 70 Village removed Balgobin’s body some time after 5 pm yesterday. The discovery of the body threw his colleagues into mourning.
Pluck described the atmosphere at Number 63 Beach as being full of grief and shock. She said that many persons worked closely with Balgobin and were deeply affected.
Balgobin reportedly lived with an elderly aunt and had no children. Reports are that he lost his mother some time last year.