(Trinidad Guardian) “I didn’t kill my son,” Justin Francette whispered yesterday as he recounted how he fought to free his dying son from the flames that engulfed his car following an explosion on Friday.
Prince Francette, 3, died after suffering burns to 100 per cent of his body.
Francette, 22, who was interviewed at his home on Cito Lane, Tabaquite, where the accident occurred, denied that his son had fallen asleep in the car. He said Prince was playing on the back seat when the car exploded. The force of the explosion flung him about 10 feet away, while Prince remained trapped inside the car.
Francette could not hold back the tears as he said: “People saying I kill my son but this is not true. I tried my best to save him. He was my life. I love him like I never loved anyone else. There were two things I loved, my son and my car and now both are gone.”
He said he has not been able to sleep and is haunted by videos of his son’s dying moments which have been posted on social media.
Francette and his wife, Maria Granger, separated after only six months after marriage when Prince was just a few months old. On the day the child died, Francette said he took Prince to enrol him at the Tabaquite Seventh Day Adventist pre-school.
“He was coming to live with me soon. He loved sticking up under me. Anything I was doing he was there helping me,” he said.
On the day of the accident, Francette said he spent the day playing and having fun with his son.
“His hair had gotten loose and he said, ‘Daddy come and comb my hair, look how ugly I looking’,” Francette recalled.
He said he braided his son’s hair and showed him how handsome he was in the mirror.
Shortly afterwards, Francette went outside to work on the Nissan March he had purchased the day before. He said Prince clambered inside the car.
“I was there with him. He was happy and smiling. Then I noticed a small bit of fire in the back seat in the area where the gas tank is. Before I could pull him out, the whole car exploded, pitching me out.”
Francette said he tried to open the door to get to Prince but it was jammed.
“I tried to break the glass. I bawled for my mother to come. She was bathing. Then I freaked out on the ground,” he said.
He said neighbours came and started throwing water in the car as the dying toddler whimpered.
“While I lay there on the ground, I could hear my son crying,” he said.
The boy’s grandmother, Diana Stewart-Garcia, said they called an ambulance and the paramedics advised them not to move the boy or touch him because his clothes could get stuck onto his skin. Stewart-Garcia said it took 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. Doctors tried in vain to save the toddler but he died.
Stewart-Garcia said she was horrified that in their moment of trauma, someone close to them recorded the ordeal and posted it on social media.
“Please people, have a heart. Have a little love in your heart. Instead of trying to help us in some way, you decide to tape it? And then you post it?
“People today try to mash up relationships rather than to save relationships. Nobody knows what we going through now. It feels like a dream. I am happy he was with us when he died. He was happy with us. We loved him and he loved us,” she said.
Stewart-Garcia said she wants National Family Services to provide counselling for the family. She said Francette is inconsolable and her nine-year-old son Curtis and daughter, Callana Garcia, were traumatized after seeing their nephew burnt alive.
Police said an autopsy will be done tomorrow. Officers from the Brasso police station, including Cpl Combs and PC’s Singh and Jones, are continuing investigations.