No autopsy after 9 months

No autopsy after 9 months

Disabled dad anxious to get closure in baby's death

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Dean Stewart, the father of a one-month-old baby who died suddenly on October 1, 2018, is still awaiting an autopsy to determine the cause of death — nine months later.

Stewart, who is a former member of Jamaica's national Paralympics team, and a resident of Maxfield Avenue in the Corporate Area, told the Jamaica Observer that the body of his daughter, Daniella Stewart, is still “on ice” at the Tranquility Funeral Home, where she has been since dying on her mother's birthday last October.

“The night before, is me put her to bed. There was nothing wrong with her and she wasn't sick or anything. So I don't know how she died. We just wake up the next morning and found her not looking how she supposed to look,” Stewart told the Sunday Observer.

The 33-year-old father said that he and the mother rushed their baby to the Bustamante Hospital for Children, where the doctor who received Daniella came to them moments later, and reported that the baby had died. Stewart said the doctor told them that the child died before she arrived at the hospital.

“They were trying to tell us that we brought her there dead, but I am not a doctor, and I was telling them that I wouldn't know if the child was dead just by looking at her,” Stewart said.

The doctors told the couple that after they had examined little Daniella's body, they saw no physical signs to indicate what could have caused her death. The parents were advised to wait on the autopsy report and, to make a report at the nearest police station, which was the Hunt's Bay station in St Andrew.

“When I went to give the report at the station, the officer who took the statement from me and the mother was a Sergeant Williams. He was the one in charge of the case,” said Stewart.

However, since filing the report with the police, Stewart said that the police have still not provided him with a date for the autopsy. According to Stewart, during two subsequent calls from the police regarding the matter, he was referred to by a wrong name.

“After I file the report, the first police officer that call me was asking, 'is this Patrick Stewart?'

“I found it strange, so what I did, I photocopied my passport and I took it to them. Five months later, another lady called me from Denham Town police station asking for Patrick Stewart again.

Despite the two calls, Stewart said he has still not been given an update on the police's investigation into Daniella's death.

“The police have not come to the house since my baby died. So I don't know what kind of investigation them doing. I still have the receiver that the baby was on when she died. We never washed it, we still have all her clothes. So I am just waiting on the Government to tell me when they are ready to do the autopsy,” said a frustrated Stewart.

He said in the initial months after his child's death, he made several trips to the Hunts Bay police station seeking any update on the progress of the police investigation.

“When it just happen mi guh to the station every day, but me can't do that every day because me have children to feed,” said the father of three other children.

“I am wondering why the police are not in any haste to do the autopsy, because if it is a fact where the police are suspecting foul play, they would have had a speedy process and they would have come for me and her mother and lock us up long time. But then again I was saying maybe the police are still doing their investigation, so I decided to give them some time to investigate,” he continued.

Stewart said that about a month ago, he received a call from a Corporal Batten from the Cross Roads police station who also referred to him as Patrick Stewart. Attempts by the Sunday Observer to reach the police named by Stewart were unsuccessful.

An officer at the Cross Roads police station told this newspaper that Corporal Batten had been transferred to the Matilda's Corner police station.

However, Stewart told the Sunday Observer that the corporal later called asking why he had not gone to see Sergeant Williams to follow up on the autopsy.

“Him call and a ask mi if mi nuh guh check with Sergeant Williams yet, and telling me that the people them at Tranquility are calling to say that the body is still down there. I asked him if I must go down there and that is what I did.”

The following morning, Stewart said he went to the funeral home, where little Daniella's body still chills, to get answers.

“The lady who I spoke with when I went there tell me that it is government business, 'what am I doing down here?'And before hanging up the phone she said to me that in order for anything to move along, the police have to finish them investigation because the child died at home.

“But I want to know if Tranquility doesn't find it appalling or strange that a body is there for nine months. How much money is being paid to house this body?” a puzzled Stewart said while noting that the facility could not accommodate his wheelchair.

When the Sunday Observer called the funeral home, an employee confirmed that Daniella's name was on the list of bodies being stored there for months.

“I normally do a list on Mondays, and that list consists of names awaiting post-mortem and her name [Daniella] continues to be on that list. It is up to the police who check these lists to go through and see why this case has not been done as yet.

“The police or investigating officer needs to send in a request to the forensic lab to get a post-mortem date. When the forensic lab gives the police a date, they would call the family and inform them as to where to go and the time,” said the employee who refused to give her name.

She noted further that the Government is responsible for storage of bodies up until the day of the autopsy. She said the lenght of time the body remains at the funeral home depends on how quickly the police do their investigation.

“Sometimes the police can't get in touch with family members. Sometimes I will call and ask what is going on with a case if I see where it has been a while, which for Daniella, it was a police at Cross Roads that I got in touch with.

“Eventually I found out that it was a Sergeant Williams from the Hunts Bay police station who is assigned to the case. I have not talked to this police as yet because the last time I tried calling I didn't get through to him. But the father should get in touch with the police because the baby died from October last year.

“If one month passes, I would go to the police and find out what is happening. So it is either the police can't get in touch with the family or the police are not doing their job,” said the employee.

But Stewart is adamant that he has already visited Hunts Bay police station enough.

“The police took a statement from me and my spouse. If they had a problem with what we have said, how come the police don't come back to us?

“The police should not be holding up this thing if them don't find any foul play because the doctor himself down at Bustamante said to me that when he examined the body, him could not see what could have cause her death,” said Stewart.

“I will never call back the police or Bustamante or Tranquility again until the time right. I am waiting to see if they would make a year past before them do my daughter autopsy. Why has it not been done?” he continued.

Stewart told the Sunday Observer that the mother of the child, with whom he also has an eight-year-old daughter, has since developed mental issues.

“The police them make the mother mad. My babymother is a mad woman today!” lamented Stewart.

“When it just happen, the police mostly spoke with the mother because the child was sleeping alongside her on the bed. But they were making her feel a way because they were asking her if she was sure that she didn't roll over on the child.

“Right now, a doctor diagnose her with severe depression, or something like that. And I am disabled so there is nobody to wash my clothes. I can't do anything without her because she is the one with the limbs.

Stewart, who was born paraplegic, said the situation has left him more 'disabled' than he was.

“This situation leave mi with a mad wife and one less child from my four pickney them.”

He said the child's mother who is 25 years old keeps asking: “Where is my baby, where is my baby?”

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