The family and friends of six-year-old Eric Gittens, who died after a concrete table fell on him at the Turtle Beach Hotel in Tobago on Friday, are appealing to hotels and people with similar equipment to remove them rather than risking injuries in the future. In a statement yesterday the family and friends of Eric said they felt the need to speak in the interest of public safety, accuracy and a humane concern for the grieving parents of the young boy.
“We repeat the Tobago police’s call for the hotel to remove other similar tables, for other people with similar equipment to check (or) remove them and for the relevant experts to advise the public on the minimum standards required to ensure that these tables do not cause more injuries in the future.” Manager of the hotel, Leslie Amedee, refused to answer questions yesterday afternoon when contacted.
“The hotel has said all that it needed to say on the matter,” Amedee responded to several different questions. Asked six times whether the hotel would be removing or replacing the tables as a result of the incident, Amedee refused to answer. Amedee reportedly told a newspaper on Monday, however, the tables had been stationed around the hotel’s pool since 2004 and all necessary checks had been made to ensure their safety.
Eric’s family also raised concerns about an article in another paper yesterday that they felt suggested that his mother, Susan Gittens, was negligent in her supervision. The article quoted an anonymous source as saying Eric had been jumping on the concrete table and his mother was warned repeatedly to remove him.
“We appreciate that in situations like this emotions and gossip can distort stories and lead to people saying the wrong things. Having said that, Tuesday’s newspaper article suggesting negligence on the part of Eric and his mother reads like a callous, self-serving attempt to cause mischief or deflect responsibility. “We appeal to the media to exercise reasonable care in facilitating unfounded, anonymous allegations, and to respect the family’s need to bury their son in peace.”
The release also denied that the child had been jumping on the table. “To the best of our knowledge this version of events has never been submitted to the authorities. The release said Eric was not in the pool nor had he been on the table before the accident.