Children drown after slipping away to bathe in canal

Moments of inattention as she worried over the ill-health of her youngest child on Saturday cost Elizabeth Francis dearly, as her two eldest slipped away to a nearby canal to bathe and drowned.

Dead are nine-year-old Melissa Torres and five-year-old brother Miron Torres of Parika Back, East Bank Essequibo. According to their mother, the two children went missing around 6 pm and their bodies were discovered about an hour later in a nearby canal.

The incident which left the family in despair occurred after the two children left their home to bathe at the canal without their parents’ knowledge. Francis said she was at home attending to her youngest child who was ill while the children’s father Lorenzo Torres had moments earlier returned from work and left the house to purchase medication for the sick baby.

Melissa Torres

Francis said the two children were in the yard playing at that time.

The woman said that about half an hour after her husband left the house she realized that the place was usually quiet. “Normally when meh children dem playing in de yard meh wud hear dem but this particular day meh didn’t hearing no noise coming from them,” she said.

Francis said that she got suspicious and went downstairs and began calling for her children but got no response. “Right away meh rush to weh me husband de deh and meh ask he if dem children deh with he and he said no.” The children’s father also got worried as he had left the two children playing in the yard.

Francis said that she began to scream and a search began, with neighbours helping to look for the two children.

The parents and the some of the villagers searched various locations and an hour later, the children’s bodies were discovered in the corner of the canal, Francis related.

Miron Torres

She said persons in the area would use the canal to wash clothes and bathe, among other activities, noting that save for the waterway, there was no other means of sourcing water in the area.

The distressed woman recalled that she had lost another child by drowning at Hog Island several years ago. “Meh fainted because meh couldn’t a believe that this happening again to me when and when meh see meh two children bodies in de water. I wish it was me who deh de in de water instead of them,” she said.

Five years ago, the woman said, her four-year-old son, Ken, had wandered off and drowned in a canal at Hog Island in the Essequibo River where the family once resided.
The woman described herself as being “very poor”, and said that when her son died several years ago, she had left the home for work at an area close to her home where she assisted her husband in cutting grass.

According to Sharda, a villager who assisted the family on Sunday evening as they searched for the two children, a soap dish, towel and a bathing bowl were lying on a dam close to the canal when persons decided to search the area for the two children. She said that a report was subsequently made to the Leonora Police Station.

Francis said that Saturday afternoon was the first time the children had left the house without telling her where they were going. Neighbours described the two children as affectionate and quiet.

The children are expected to be buried tomorrow and they leave to mourn their parents and two younger siblings.

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