5th September 2022
Today is the 19th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in the history of the Bermuda Police Service. It was on the afternoon of 5th September 2003, as Bermuda was bearing the full brunt of Hurricane Fabian, a Category 3 storm cited as being the most destructive hurricane in Bermuda since 1926, that three of our colleagues from St. George’s Police Station embarked on a fateful journey that was to result in the loss of their lives.
Constables Stephen Symons and Nicole O’Connor, set off from St. George’s Police Station to escort and civilian Station Duty Officer Gladys Saunders to her home in Hamilton Parish at the end of her tour of duty.
As they approached The Causeway high waves from the hurricane were crashing over it but they attempted to continue on their journey as did Mr. Manuel Pacheco, a Corporation of Hamilton employee, in his own vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.
They did not realize the ferocity of the waves which had by now caused severe damage to sections of the wall, and soon completely destroying the western end of the Causeway making it impossible to traverse it.
Both vehicles were swept off the causeway and all four lost their lives., and the only body ever recovered was that of Constable Stephen Symons.
The BPS has regularly arranged annual memorial services to honour those who lost their lives, and a memorial bench has been erected near the tragic scene.
Among the officers who attended the scene of this tragedy as it was unfolding were Richard Austin and Brian Robinson. Also very active in the subsequent search for the missing people was Huron Vidal of the Police Marine Section who is presently missing at sea off the coast of his native Dominica.
We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the four victims of Hurricane Fabian, and our thoughts and prayers are also with the family of Huron Vidal at this most difficult time.
We have received the following Words of Reflection and Hope from our good friend and colleague Richard (Wynford) Austin, in memory of our dear departed colleagues.
For family, friends, colleagues, today marks the 19th anniversary we lost loved ones to the tragedy that was Hurricane Fabian. On this day, it is normal that our feelings, thoughts, memories, and our dreams of Nicole, Gladys, Manuel, and Steven are intensified, but importantly shared commonly by us all. The intensity of our emotions is not an expression of doom and gloom but rather a personal tribute of our love for them and missing them still beats strongly in our hearts.
Today, we honor the fallen family member, the colleague, the people of Bermuda by shining a beacon of HOPE in a world that has gone gloomy over the past two years. We have come through the losses on that fateful September 5thafternoon by being open to Help, being Optimistic, Positive, and full of Expectation. Let us look beyond the aspects of life normally associated with significant losses- Remembrance, Grief, Feelings, Sadness, Honor- and embrace those qualities that give us HOPE- Growth, Rebirth, Optimism, and Commitment. We honor them by choosing to live our lives for the better in memory of them.
We do that when we
- Help someone along the way when you have the chance to do so. Accept help when it is offered. Not all cries for help are vocal and all our hurts and wounds are not seen on the surface.
- Carry an optimistic attitude to life but stay grounded.
- Have a positive and calming attitude in times of crisis and loss. This helps the person, the family, the organization, and even the Nation to heal.
- Expect the good things in people and life and seek them out, yet keep those expectations real.
The most important people in our lives have made us laugh and cry. Today we recall a sad moment that claimed lives and made us weep. Dwell not only in sadness, shed a tear also for the good times they had brought us. Cherish not only those good moments of yesteryear but hold dear the people and things that make life meaningful to you at this moment. Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata reminds us that this is still a beautiful world and exhorts us to strive to be happy. Dare to be, it is there, grasp it!