A KIND SOUL GONE FOR­EVER

Death of teen fire vic­tim leaves void in the lives of spe­cial-needs school fam­ily

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ryon Jones Sun­day Gleaner Writer

CHRISTINA PEART had been hold­ing her breath and des­per­ately wait­ing to hear long-time friend San­jay Wil­liams tell her he liked her. She had had a crush on him for as long as she could re­mem­ber and hoped with all her heart that he would re­turn the af­fec­tion.

Alas, be­cause of the il­le­gal and care­less ac­tion of oth­ers, that day will never come.

Four­teen-year-old Wil­liams was a vic­tim of last Sun­day’s mas­sive ex­plo­sion at an il­le­gal gas-fill­ing plant on Jacques Road, off Moun­tain View Av­enue in St An­drew. Sev­eral com­pressed gas cylin­ders from a stor­age tank at­tached to the back of a mo­tor truck ex­ploded, se­ri­ously in­jur­ing five per­sons, two of whom died.

Forty-eight-year-old Everett Austin died on Mon­day, while Wil­liams passed away on Thurs­day at the Kingston Pub­lic Hospi­tal, de­spite des­per­ate ef­forts to save him. One of the teen’s broth­ers, who was also in­jured in the ex­plo­sion, is among the three per­sons still ad­mit­ted in se­ri­ous con­di­tion.

Wil­liams was an eighth-grade stu­dent at the Ran­dolph Lopez School of Hope in St An­drew for spe­cial-needs chil­dren, be­cause of his in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity. His

death has left the en­tire school com­mu­nity in mourn­ing, but es­pe­cially his class­mates. Chief among them is Peart, whom he spoke to the most in class.

The young lady said that dur­ing her last con­ver­sa­tion with Wil­liams, she told him she liked him, and al­though he re­sponded that he did not like her, his ac­tions al­ways in­di­cated oth­er­wise.

“I told him that I liked him and he said he didn’t like me, but he was very kind to me and I know he re­ally liked me too,” Peart told The Sun­day Gleaner. “I feel sad. I knew him from pri­mary school and he would call me some­times.”

Wil­liams’ class teacher Lsy­hann Lecky re­vealed that stu­dents and teach­ers alike cried openly when news broke of the tragedy.

“He was loved by his friends. I didn’t know that he was loved so much un­til they heard of his pass­ing and ev­ery­one started cry­ing,” a sor­row­ful Lecky shared.

“He was re­ally kind. We re­cently got a new stu­dent who was in a wheel­chair; the only stu­dent in a wheel­chair, and San­jay would ac­tu­ally push up the wheel­chair to the stu­dent and try to lift him up, but he is re­ally tall and frail in body, so I told him not to do that, so he would push up the wheel­chair and say, ‘Come Miss, your time now’.”

Ronardo Lind­say, who also hails from Jacques Road and suf­fered mi­nor burns to his left leg from the ex­plo­sion, re­vealed that he still cries each time he looks at his friend’s pic­ture.

“Is foot­ball we said we were go­ing to play and I went to call him and he said he will soon come when it hap­pened,” Lind­say re­counted. “When I heard (he died), I felt sad, and when I got home, I started to cry, and I told my mother and she started cry­ing too.”

He con­tin­ued, “Ev­ery time I look at his pic­ture, I just cry. He was so kind to me and he was my best, best friend from in sev­enth

grade. And he didn’t hurt me no time. He would al­ways give me his things and I give him things I have, and we went home to­gether ev­ery day.”

AVID FOOT­BALLER

Prin­ci­pal of the school, Sylvestina Reid, de­scribed Wil­liams as a dis­ci­plined child

whose par­ents did not have to be sum­moned to the school for any rea­son.

“If San­jay does any­thing wrong and you cor­rect him, he would lis­ten and take heed,” Reid shared. “He wasn’t one of those who flared up; never. He would say, ‘OK, I am sorry’, and he would move on.”

Lecky said the young man was a steady stu­dent, and while there was usu­ally a deficit in spell­ing with boys, this was the sub­ject he ex­celled at.

“He was re­ally quiet and had a calm de­meanour; he didn’t talk much. He would mainly speak with the girl be­side him. She (Peart) had known him from pri­mary school, so they spoke a lot, but it wouldn’t dis­rupt the class,” Lecky said.

“The only prob­lem I had with him was that at lunchtime, he would play so much that when he came into the class, his shirt would be wet, wet.”

STAR PLAYER

Most of that sweat­ing would be due to him play­ing his favourite sport, foot­ball, an­other thing he ex­celled at. In fact, he was one of the star play­ers on the school’s foot­ball team.

“San­jay was the vice-cap­tain of the foot­ball team be­cause he was a well-be­haved boy. He was like a leader to some of the other boys,” phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher and foot­ball coach Roan Mon­tague shared as he fought to hold back tears.

“He was al­ways threat­en­ing me that he was go­ing to pile me when we would play foot­ball to­gether be­cause he was a very good foot­ball player. But foot­ball wasn’t even his great­est at­tribute; it is the fact that he was such a well-be­haved boy. When oth­ers were giv­ing trou­ble, he would be the one to say ‘be­have your­selves’.”

Wil­liams, who played on the team for the past two years, missed their open­ing match of the sea­son, which was played the same day he died.

“He had been to ev­ery foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion that we have had be­cause he was a very good player, scor­ing goals for the team, mak­ing passes, de­fend­ing. He was a well-rounded player,” Mon­tague con­tin­ued.

“A se­ri­ous void has been left be­cause he was a leader and be­cause of the po­si­tion he played. Those are all gone now.”

VOL­UME 77 NO. 43 SUN­DAY, OC­TO­BER 23, 2016 KINGSTON, JA­MAICA 152 PAGES

PHO­TOS BY RI­CARDO MAKYN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Sylvestina Reid, prin­ci­pal of the Ran­dolph Lopez School of Hope (left) and teacher Lsy­hann Lecky.

RI­CARDO MAKYN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Sylvestina Reid, prin­ci­pal of the Ran­dolph Lopez School of Hope (left), and foot­ball coach Roan Mon­tague

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