In the early morning hours of August 26, 2007, Shalom Apartment building plummeted more than 50 feet down into the cavernous darkness of the earth beneath it, taking a family of five to their horrific deaths.
Thirty-year-old Donavere Codrington, his 27-year-old wife Cassandra and their children Shaquanda 7, Shaquille 3 and baby Yashiro died when the cave, on which their home at Arch Cot Terrace, Britton’s Cross Road was built, collapsed.
A 50-ton boulder came crashing down on the building minutes after, as Codrington cried out in anguish to neighbours for help, silencing the five human voices forever.
The magnitude of the tragedy was incomprehensible to many at the time. It sent hockwaves throughout Barbados and everywhere people were asking in disbelief, “did this really happen?”
Apart from the five who perished, other residents in the tiny development were displaced. For weeks a cordoned-off section of the nearby Brittons Cross Road community suffered inconvenience and frustration getting to their homes, victims of the restrictive arrangements in place by police to keep the curious away from the area.
Today, most of the people touched directly or indirectly by the Arch Cot disaster have moved on with their lives, while a few continue to wallow in their distress as they try to find closure.
Seven years have passed and the verdict following a commission of enquiry set up by Government to find answers is instructive. Coroner Faith Marshall Harris deemed the disaster “not so much an act of God but more the act of man jogging the hand of God”.