Relatives seeking answers about miner’s death

One month after 20-year-old Keith Wallerson of Golden Grove, West Coast Berbice was laid to rest, his relatives are still seeking answers about events leading up to his death.

Wallerson had been working as a miner at Aranka and his body was said to have been pulled from the Cuyuni River around 1 pm on August 17.

A post-mortem examination performed on his body proved that he died by drowning

Keith Wallerson
Keith Wallerson

but his mother, Hazel James is adamant that he was beaten before being thrown overboard.

The woman also feels that her son was robbed because “two fat gold rings and three and a half ounces of gold” that he had in his possession cannot be accounted for.

Among his belongings that the other miners returned to her was an empty container in which he kept the gold, she said.

She claimed that when her daughter, Melissa James went to identify the body after it was brought to Georgetown, there were visible marks of violence, suggesting that he was a victim of foul play. It was otherwise in good condition.

Melissa, a medex with the army, said her brother’s hand bore an injury and seemed to be broken, his neck was swollen and also appeared to be broken and his face was covered with blood; that came from his ears and nose.

They showed this newspaper a photograph of the dead man which substantiated their claim about the injuries and the blood.

The women also received conflicting reports from the other miners about how he met his demise and feel that they are not speaking the truth and are withholding vital information.

Hazel James and her daughter, Melissa
Hazel James and her daughter, Melissa

The miners claimed the bleeding was caused after they rolled Wallerson on the ground in an effort to get the water he would have swallowed out of his stomach. If that was the case, James said, it meant they believed he was still alive when he was pulled out of the water and she questioned why he was not taken to the hospital.

The miners also claimed that “a man threw a rope for him in the water”, James said but did not release the name of the man.

The mother and sister of the dead man urged persons to come forward with information and called on the police to continue with the investigations or justice would be denied.

On Sunday last, Melissa received a telephone call from the mother of one of the miners. The woman said the police were chasing her son “at Aranka and that police from Berbice went up there…”

During an exchange of words Melissa told the woman, “I am not there and I don’t know what is going on and that is news to me. I am hearing a lot of different stories.”

According to her, the police from Aranka had told the pathologist during the PME when he inquired, that Wallerson’s body was found nine hours after he went missing. But the doctor detected that it was discovered some two hours later.

Melissa witnessed the PM and was puzzled that the doctor removed the tongue which had a slight trace of sand. She wondered too why she was not shown the lungs which were taken out and placed away from the body.

Wallerson was laid to rest the day after the PM was performed but James said that with all the doubts about her son’s demise, she was sorry that she did not postpone the funeral to make way for further investigations.

Police had said in a release that Wallerson was crossing the Cuyuni River in a boat, when it capsized and he was feared drowned.

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