The government’s chief of staff has said that the doctor who did the first autopsy report on Shawn Warner – whose family maintains he was electrocuted – has suggested the victim had more than one underlying health issue prior to his demise, and this contributed to an inconclusive cause of death.
But the family is refuting the claim made yesterday by Lionel “Max” Hurst, as they further contend the death was due to negligence on the part of Caribbean Development (Antigua) Limited (CDAL) which manages and maintains the gated Jolly Harbour community within which Warner died on November 6 last year.
Yesterday, Hurst commented on the matter following Monday’s protest action in Jolly Harbour by relatives of the deceased. He confirmed that a second autopsy, which the government promised to finance, was recently done.
“We are waiting on the report; she did it on Friday and it may not be as conclusive,” Hurst said. “We did a second autopsy because the first one was carried out by Dr. Lester Simon and he is beyond very good, and he said that given the underlying illnesses which the subject was suffering, it looks as though he had an enlarged heart and he had high blood pressure and he wasn’t taking any medicine for either of them.”
Dr. Simon subsequently declined comment, but Hurst said the first autopsy result/report by that pathologist was submitted to the attorney general, and once the report on the second one is returned, the two would be compared and handed to the family of the deceased.
Last Friday, forensic pathologist from Trinidad, Althea Neblett, carried out the second autopsy which was financed by the government, Hurst confirmed.
Warner’s sister, Natasha James, is one of two relatives who yesterday rebutted Hurst’s statement about her brother’s alleged pre-existing conditions.
She said her brother “never suffered from any sort of high blood pressure”. She had earlier stated that the first autopsy found the deceased had an enlarged heart which the doctor told the family could be linked to the alleged electrocution.
This was supported by Sandra Warner, mother of the deceased. The woman said Hurst is making comments out of turn, has no knowledge about her son’s health, and neither did he conduct nor attend the autopsy. She said the family will seek legal advice.
The first autopsy, which the relatives and the police said was done by Dr. Sekena Goodwin, a colleague of Dr. Lester Simon, found young Warner’s death to be inconclusive.
The dead man’s mother said Dr. Goodwin told them her findings, but to date they have not been issued with a copy of the results or the death certificate.
Samples of skin, blood, urine and tissue were taken for further testing to determine what led to the young man’s demise.
Meanwhile, as the family continues to lament not hearing from the management of CDAL, the managing director of the organisation, Wim Berends, told OBSERVER media he would not comment while the matter is still being probed.
“We handed the file over to the insurance, Caribbean Alliance. The whole investigation is in the hands of Caribbean Alliance,” he said.
A day after the incident, CDAL declared the community safe and offered condolences to the family in the same press statement.
On Monday, the victim’s sister, mother, aunts, his six-year-old son and other supporters protested outside the Jolly Harbour entrance, demanding justice and answers.
The younger of his two sons, Kishawn Warner, who was clad in school uniform during the protest, carried a placard which read, “I want my daddy. I love my daddy. I’m empty without my daddy. Pure negligence. Justice for my daddy!”
Shawn Warner’s mother held up a placard directed at CDAL, which read, “On Tuesday 6th November, your electrician negligence took my son. Shawn is my security, my electrician, my mechanic, my driver, my strongest supporter, my motivator and most of all my love. I need justice for my son Shawn Warner.”
The young man, who helped run his mother’s business – Sandra’s Beach Shop, Bar and Grill on Jolly Beach –was pronounced dead at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) on the same night he was allegedly electrocuted.
His family said he came into contact with a loose wire on a pole at Jolly Harbour while they were leaving the area around 6:35 p.m.
His mother, who said she witnessed the incident, said they were stalled at the gate by security who said they should have left earlier since the gate closes at 6 p.m. and security did not have a key to open in order to let them out.
The woman said when she turned around, she realised her son was being shocked. He called out for help but no one could assist in the circumstances.
The dead man was rushed to hospital and relatives said when they were finished at MSJMC and returned to the scene, CDAL management already had workmen on the site, but the police had not cordoned off or secured the area.