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Family of electrocuted worker to file lawsuit against PriceSmart, JPS

Published:Saturday | March 25, 2023 | 1:19 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Shanastascia Crooks (left), baby mother of Jevaughn Smith; his cousin, Lateisha Crooks (centre) and attorney Tamara Francis Riley-Dunn held a press conference yesterday to highlight concerns they have in the wake of the death of Crooks.
Shanastascia Crooks (left), baby mother of Jevaughn Smith; his cousin, Lateisha Crooks (centre) and attorney Tamara Francis Riley-Dunn held a press conference yesterday to highlight concerns they have in the wake of the death of Crooks.

The family of Jevaughn Smith, the 19-year-old maintenance worker who came in contact with power lines while working at PriceSmart on Red Hills Road on March 13, and died four days later from electrocution, has retained legal counsel to file a lawsuit against PriceSmart and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS).

Attorney-at-law Tamara Francis Riley-Dunn, who is representing the family, says they will commence their investigations and then start the litigation process.

“It is our intention to connect with both of these entities. Our investigations will commence into exactly what happened, and which of these two entities or both are responsible for this young man's death … someone is responsible,” she said.

His cousin, Lateisha Campbell, said Smith suffered third-degree burns and was taken to the Kingston Public Hospital where he was admitted. While there, she said the family had to hire a private ambulance to take him to do a computerised tomography (CT) scan off-site as none was available at the hospital.

AGAINST COMPANY POLICY

Campbell said she returned to PriceSmart and attempted to take photos of where the incident occurred the same day, but was told it was against company policy. After this, she made a report at the Constant Spring Police Station.

After his death, she said she went to make an additional report to the police but was surprised to learn that neither of the entities has made any such report.

According to his lawyer, to date, the companies have not reached out to the family.

“To say that the family is heartbroken is an understatement, but what is even more egregious is that we have not heard anything from PriceSmart managers, we have not heard anything from JPS, and the family is in a tailspin wondering what to do now,” she said at a press conference on Friday.

“It seems as if they don't care. It's like his life doesn't matter,” a subdued Campbell told The Gleaner.

Smith, who lived on Donmair Avenue, off Red Hills Road, was expecting his first child with his girlfriend, Shanastascia Crooks, who is due for delivery in May. His cousin said Smith was very excited to welcome his firstborn and had started making preparations.

In fact, she said he had recently secured the job with the independent contractor for PriceSmart as a way of securing a steady income. He had also built a stall to sell wares and fulfil his entrepreneurial dreams.

She said the family has been devastated since the tragic accident. His mother, Florence Osbourne cried throughout the press conference, telling The Gleaner that she was unable to cope with the loss of her fourth child.

“When I was at the hospital and his mommy break down crying saying they took her heart from her, I wasn't even able to cry or had a chance. I've had three episodes (of seizure) since the incident,” Campbell said.

“I have to take his baby mommy down to the hospital on Sunday night because she also had a heart condition as well as being pregnant. And my brother is not taking it well either as well as his dad,” she added.

A spokesperson at JPS said the company could not comment on the incident at this time, as it was now a legal matter.

The Gleaner sought comment from PriceSmart but was told that the management was not available to speak at the time as they were in a meeting.

Up to late last evening The Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force told The Gleaner that it had not yet received a report from the police on the incident.