‘I SAW DEATH’

Wo­man re­calls events of stam­pede 40 years ago in­side Na­tional Sta­dium

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - ja­son.cross@glean­erjm.com

A HERO on He­roes Day was what Pauline Rod­ney made her­self on Oc­to­ber 18, 1976, when she per­formed car­diopul­monary re­sus­ci­ta­tion, some­thing she knew noth­ing about, on her daugh­ter, Caro­line, in­side the Na­tional Sta­dium where there was a stam­pede.

Like yes­ter­day’s cer­e­mony of in­vesti­ture, which was part of the ob­ser­vance of Na­tional He­roes Day, the Oc­to­ber 18, 1976 event was a He­roes Day celebration, and it was the first time that Nanny of the Ma­roons was be­ing recog­nised as a Na­tional Hero­ine.

She went to the event at the sta­dium to ed­u­cate her­self some more on Ja­maican his­tory, but the rain came down sud­denly and sent ev­ery­one scam­per­ing for shel­ter. Ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one were lit­er­ally turned up­side down.

Rod­ney told The Gleaner that peo­ple started tram­pling upon each other.

DEV­AS­TAT­ING OR­DEAL

“It was dev­as­tat­ing. I saw death. The crowd was so big and the rain just started to fall. It was a crazy thing,” she said.

Her daugh­ter was tram­pled on dur­ing the stam­pede. She re­called how she held on to her child’s leg with her might so as to stop her from fall­ing com­pletely to the ground.

She man­aged to pull her daugh­ter away then pro­ceeded to per­form mouth-to­mouth re­sus­ci­ta­tion. She then man­aged to rush Caro­line to the Bus­ta­mante Hospi­tal for Chil­dren with the help of a mo­torist.

Rod­ney re­called a lit­tle boy bit­ing into her side. She told The Gleaner that that lit­tle boy helped to give her the strength to hold on tightly to her daugh­ter’s leg by re­mind­ing her of the se­ri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion. That bite left a mark, which Rod­ney still has to­day, 40 years later.

“I still have the mark there. I’m keep­ing it as a re­minder. The bite helped me to hold on,” she said.

At least five per­sons died in that stam­pede, in­clud­ing chil­dren.

To­day, Rod­ney is a clin­i­cal in­struc­tor in the United States of Amer­ica. She said her de­ci­sion to go into nurs­ing stemmed from the in­ci­dent, as well as pres­sure from her mother who wanted to see her on that path.

FILE

Par­ents of three of the four chil­dren who died at the Na­tional Sta­dium on the af­ter­noon of Oc­to­ber 18, 1976 wept as they saw the bod­ies of their chil­dren who were tram­pled to death. They are from (left) Hy­acinth Mor­ris, mother of Ei­lene Bryan. She is be­ing com­forted by then Prime Min­is­ter Michael Man­ley; Joy Thomp­son, mother of An­gella El­lis, and Rudolph Camp­bell, fa­ther of Ron­ald Camp­bell.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Pauline Rod­ney (right) and her daugh­ter, Caro­line.

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