Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Mother, daughter remembered in double funeral

Published:Monday | February 26, 2024 | 12:08 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer -
Pall bearers carry the coffin bearing the body of Petrina Wallace.
Pall bearers carry the coffin bearing the body of Petrina Wallace.
Lavecia Forrester’s family members and students from the Petersfield High School view her body before it is taken to her final resting place in their Gordon, Whitehouse, community in Westmoreland.
Lavecia Forrester’s family members and students from the Petersfield High School view her body before it is taken to her final resting place in their Gordon, Whitehouse, community in Westmoreland.


Fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Lavecia Forrester and her 39-year-old mother Petrina Wallace who lived together and died together were also celebrated together and buried beside each other following a service of thanksgiving for their lives last weekend in Westmoreland.

They died tragically three months ago in a motor vehicle collision along with three others while they were on their way home in a public passenger vehicle operated by 47-year-old Delroy Rodney of a Belmont address in Westmoreland.

Rodney is charged with five counts of causing death by dangerous driving and is before the Westmoreland Circuit Court.

Claudette Spencer, a friend and confidante of the late Petrina Wallace remembered her as a gem whose life was colourful and bright, and an individual who enjoyed going to parties where she would show off her latest dance moves.

“Petra, as most of us, her friends and loved ones would call her, was the life of the parties, busting her cool moves for us to see. If she wasn’t dancing, it wouldn’t be a party,” Spencer said.

“There wasn’t a dull moment when it came to Petra as she was always giving jokes and telling stories that would guarantee laughter and much excitement.”

However, she admitted that her friend had come to recognise that her lifestyle was not pleasing to God.

“The last time we spoke, she told me something and I encouraged her to give her life to the Lord, and she said to me, ‘Sandy, you know say mi a guh dung a Sister Nancy to talk to her, because mi wah change mi life. Mi nuh wah live suh nuh more’, and I encouraged her, but, sad to say, she didn’t get the chance,” said Spencer of her friend, as she delivered the eulogy during Petrina’s funeral at the Church of God of Prophecy in Whitehouse, Westmoreland on Saturday.

Spencer noted that life is full of many unforeseen circumstances, and that her friend, who is survived by her mother, father, grandmother, four siblings and three sons, probably would have seen her life turn out better had the incident that took her’s and her daughter’s lives not occurred.

“Her only daughter (Lavecia Forrester) had an unfortunate incident and, in a bid to seek help, protection and support, Petrina went to the Savanna-la-Mar Family Court on Monday, November 13, and on her way back home the taxi in which they were travelling collided into a truck and then a tree where Petrina and her daughter died on the spot,” she recalled.

Petrina, who is from Gordon district, was self-employed at the time of her death and, in her adult life, she started out as a fish vendor at the Whitehouse Fishing Beach before moving on to selling assorted items, including laundry products.

Like her mother, a member of the community identified as D. Jones Eubanks, remembered Lavecia as a young lady who was jovial and enjoyed dancing up a storm.

She noted that the proverb that states that the apple doesn’t fall far, and which means that a child grows up to be similar to his or her parents, both in behaviour and in physical characteristics, was evident with Lavecia.

“Lavecia, like her mother, she loved to dance and was always showcasing her dancing skills,” Jones-Eubanks said while delivering the eulogy at her service of thanksgiving.

“Lavecia and her mother had a close relationship, they were like sisters. And if for any reason she had to be absent from school, she would be at her mother’s workplace, assisting her or just keeping her company. No wonder they departed this life together,” she lamented.

Further, Jones-Eubanks recalled that Lavecia’s friends at school said she would often be laughing, giving jokes and just being playful.

“However, when it was work time, she would settle down and get the work done,” Jones-Eubanks said, indicating that this was evident as “she made great strides in her education, as she moved from seven through to grade 10”.

Saturday’s double funeral came two days after the accused taxi driver, who is also a senior deacon in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, strengthened his defence team which is being led by senior counsel Lambert Johnson, Faith Salmon and now Shanique Somerville.

The lawyers in court on Thursday revealled that they were now in possession of a video recording of the accident that has since gone viral and is vital in their defence to exonerate their client from the indictments the state has placed on him.

According to Johnson, the defence is relying on, among other things, the statement from at least one witness from the truck who admitted that it was in fact going quite fast when Rodney’s vehicle collided with it.

The court also heard via the investigating officer that the truck involved in the deadly accident has been returned to the owners.

That came even as Rodney’s lawyers had previously pointed fingers at the truck driver, noting then that he would be called upon to bear some amount of responsibility as the case was in the civil division of the country’s justice system.

Johnson told presiding judge Justice Courtney Daye that he was perplexed and puzzled that the police, through their various departments, only carried out analytical examinations on the black box of his client’s vehicle and not on the truck that was also involved in the collision.

Responding, Daye said it was incumbent on the police to retrieve the truck from its owners in the public interest. He argued that this request for the black box on the truck be examined from last December and that two months after the matter remains the same.

Another four months has been given for the prosecution to complete its case. The new date is set for June 7.

The police reported that Lavecia and her mother; Oneil Allen and his mother, 65-year-old Angela Samuel, both of Mount Edgecombe; and 54-year-old Janet Thompson of McAlpine, also in Westmoreland died in the accident.

It is reported that, about 3:30 pm on November 13, the five people and another passenger were aboard a grey Toyota Noah being driven by Rodney when the minivan collided with a truck, which was travelling in the opposite direction.