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Offline Socaman

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Caution required on beaches
« on: February 03, 2010, 05:05:17 AM »
Caution required on beaches

HEATHER-DAWN HERRERA


Thursday, January 28th 2010
 
 
 
SERENE: 'Caution must be exercised on beautiful beaches such as Pigeon Point and others'.

You often read in the press of incidents happening in places where you think you would be free of such. You go with your family and friends to a beach promoted to be the most beautiful and enjoy the ambience it offers. The thought that predators actually lurk there is furthest from your mind.

That freedom that I grew up with, that I expressed to others, that I felt was part of the blessings of my land ceased to exist when on December 31, 2009, Old Year’s Day, I was assaulted with intent to rape along the Pigeon Point stretch known as The Swallows.

I had left my family and camera crew at the hotel and gone down to the beach to shoot additional footage for an upcoming eco-tourism/conservation series on television.

They were all accustomed over the years to me disappearing with my camera during the early morning when everyone was still asleep. You do get the best nature shots during the early morning and late afternoon.

That morning, I sat in my vehicle, windows up and doors locked, watching as joggers passed, security personnel passed, and two or three other vehicles passed. At 6.30 a.m. as I picked up my camera from the front seat and opened the door to alight, this man jumped inside my door and stuck the most menacing blade I had ever seen to my throat. The sheer length and thickness of that blade made me go weak at once. I think that my heart stopped beating for a few seconds.

He said, ’Don’t move, don’t move,’ in a threatening tone as I came out of my initial shock. He then ordered me out of the vehicle, ’Come out, come out!’

I started to beg him not to kill me, to just take anything, everything. My camera, phone, purse were all within sight and reach but he only concentrated on me.

He further pressed the knife against my throat and ordered me out, ’Ah say come out now!’ in that unmistakable Tobagonian twang. My whole life flashed before me as I slowly got out of the vehicle. My children did not even know where I was and how would they take this if the man killed me and my body turned up days later. This could not be happening to me. No, not in this beautiful sunlit place where so many people had just passed by. But it was happening.

The man then stuck the blade into my back and ordered me to walk away from the vehicle and down the road. He gripped my left arm with his left hand while he kept the knife in the small of my back with his right. I managed to look back at my vehicle expecting to maybe see other men ransacking it, but there was no one else. I had a good look at the man then as he walked with me. The sight of his bare face and that blade is now emblazoned on my memory forever.

He forced me to walk a couple hundred feet down the road. I tried to keep to the middle of the road for fear that he would force me into the sea on my right or into the bushes on my left. My fear was not unfounded.

On reaching a track that led through the bushes, he attempted to pull me in there. It was then that I managed to break free of his grasp and ran and screamed with all that was in me up the road and away from him. When I looked back, he was almost catching up with me and that blade in his hand flashed menacingly.

God was with me that morning as always, when two people came into view some distance up the road. When I looked back again, my pursuer was jumping into the bushes at the side of the road. Still in the grasp of terror, I continued to run and scream for all my 54 years until I reached the two people.

These two ladies called the police and with the help of a third who was driving past, I cautiously returned to my vehicle which I found had remained undisturbed.

One thing I must add is that the Crown Point Police officers really went beyond their line of duty to assist me in regaining some sort of composure which under the circumstances seemed to elude me. Special thanks to officers Graham, Denoon, Guy and others for helping me cope with the situation and for ensuring that we got an early flight back home.

Tobago is a very beautiful place, perhaps the most beautiful of all the islands. I have promoted eco-tourism on the island for years and will continue to do so. However, visitors must take every precaution necessary now as it is no longer free of criminal-minded people.

The island’s beauty has not changed, the people have not changed, but there are misguided ones in our midst who must be identified and helped back to being the people that they are supposed to be. Now, as in every other country in the world, we as fun loving people must enjoy our islands to the max but with that certain degree of caution necessary for personal safety.