Friends describe drowning victim as role model

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Tributes poured in on Sunday from friends to relatives of All Saint’s resident Dexter “Ira” Joseph, an accountant by day and bartender by night, who allegedly drowned while out on a cruise with friends on Saturday.
Some recalled his infectious smile; some remembered what a helpful person he was; while others recalled how he turned his life around after years of being in trouble with the law and serving time in prison for varying offences.
A long-time friend, Sharon Kentish was one who spoke highly of the 40-year-old father of two in an exclusive interview with OBSERVER media on Sunday.
“Despite how his life was in the past, he had a rough past and I wouldn’t detail it, it was good to see how he evolved into this serious, hard-working person. He was happy and every time he came to the bank he would make me laugh and he would talk about how proud he was of his daughter who is supposed to be graduating,” the grieving friend said.
The banker said she was shocked when she got the news of Joseph’s death and described it as “untimely” because his life was “just beginning” after he had turned over a new leaf.
“He was spending time with his children and it was amazing to see how his daughter was looking up to him as a father…he was very bright, he came out [of prison], he got a job and everything was going good…his life was just beginning, he was reintroduced into the society, he was respected, he had new co-workers and everywhere he went people loved him,” she stated.
“Ira” as she affectionately referred to him, was about to become an entrepreneur, and had already sought Kentish’s advice on all that he needed to start a business along with another investor.
“He wanted to open a business and I had walked him through it…he was going to be there for his children to walk them through life. Everywhere you saw him you saw his big daughter. He was rehabilitated. I have known him since school days…people can change…and it was good to see he moved to something positive and he was grasping all his opportunities. People can change, so there is hope,” she added.
On social media, Kentish elaborated on Joseph’s Facebook page on Sunday, saying, “Sleep in Peace my forever longtime friend. I am not gonna forget you nor will I ever forget our silly conversation we had jus two days ago. May God watch over your family at this time. Love you forever and always. — feeling sad.”
Joseph was a reformed prisoner who was pardoned in recent years for good behaviour while serving time for wounding with intent and assault with intent to rob.
Prior to the convictions for those aforementioned crimes, Joseph had served a five-year jail sentence for another crime and prison wardens had described him as disrespectful and rude, and they had indicated he showed no sign of rehabilitation back in 2010.
But family and friends always saw that there was hope for Joseph who was a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy in 1998, after he obtained passes in 11 CXC subjects and was later a top student of the Engineering Department at Antigua State College, previous court reporting records show.
His upbringing, family support and education seemingly saw his return to a productive life as Joseph’s friend and colleague Michael Eutrope, who also spoke exclusively with OBSERVER media on Sunday, said the deceased was loved very much by his mother, Ruthlyn Joseph.
“His mother and two sisters loved him very much and he was an excellent, customer oriented worker, best barman,” Eutrope said.
He added that he worked with Joseph at Carlisle Bay and Hermitage Bay and during those years he really was a hard working person. Eutrope noted that Joseph was a changed man and that his past was just a case of him meeting the wrong people.
For another friend, Heather Azille, Joseph was a kind person.
She recalled on social media, “I couldn’t believe it when my daughter called and told me you drowned, this is so sad….you help me [batten] down last year during the hurricane season and told me to call you whenever I am ready this year, but now you are gone….SIP Dexter Joseph, you will live in our hearts forever.”
Former college friend, Catty Cotton, recounted on Facebook, “You made my years in college so enjoyable with your infectious smile and your caring ways. It wasn’t always easy being the only girl in that class but you were always so supportive. The last time I saw you, we were in traffic and I promised myself next trip down I will make a point to see you. Our visit now sadly won’t come. I should have said thank you all those years ago, now I have to do it on a post that you will never see. S.I.P my friend and thank you for all the good times.”
Joseph, up to the time of his death, was an accounting officer at the Antigua and Barbuda Environment Division and a bartender/server at Catherine’s Café Plage.
According to the report made to police, he and a group of friends, who worked at Sheer Rocks, went on a cruise aboard one of the Wadadli Cats vessels on Saturday.
While docked at Cades Reef at 12:15 p.m., they were at the back of the boat preparing to go snorkeling when the captain, Andrea Samuel, heard screams coming from an area at the front of the boat.
He reported to the police that he rushed to help the person, a man, who was about 15 feet away from the boat and almost at the bottom of the water when he got to him.
Joseph was pulled from the water and placed in a dinghy where efforts were made to resuscitate him. He was then taken ashore and Emergency Medical Services rushed him to Mount St. John’s Medical Centre where was pronounced dead on arrival at around 12:45 p.m.
It is still unclear what exactly happened; how and when Joseph got into the water and whether he could swim.

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