A boy, believed to be 14 years of age, drowned over the weekend in the Lofa River along the Bomi highway, near the Grand Cape Mount County turning point.
It was a scene of great bewilderment, as nearly two hundred of the town’s people, as well as others traveling along the road to and from Grand Cape Mount County, stood on the bridge and along the bank of the river and watched in sorrow.
Eye Witnesses’ accounts informed the Daily Observer on Friday, March 8 that Nikeh Tiah, 14, who was a resident of Bachakeh Town, followed his aunt, Matu Sheriff, to the Lofa River to wash clothes, but never returned.
Bachakeh Town is the last town of Bomi County before the Lofa Bridge which is the boundary between Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
The uncle of Tiah, Patrick Welleh, said he was at home when his fiancée, Matu Sheriff, rushed back home in tears and informed him that Tiah, the child they have been looking after for years, had slipped from a rock on the river bank where he was standing, and fallen into the river.
“I ran out, seeking the best assistance I could get from men in our town but, by the time we got here, my son had already disappeared in the water,” Welleh said as he stood and watched divers get prepared to go after the body of Tiah, alive or dead.
He said the divers charged him L$10,000 but he appealed to them so that he could pay them L$7,000.
“I have already given our Town chief the money and we are here waiting to see them dive in search of my son,” he said.
Welleh noted that Tiah was the son of his fiancée’s sister, who is believed to be a resident of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
Earlier, Welleh’s fiancée, who introduced herself as Matu Sheriff, said she was having a bath at the river when her sister’s son mistakenly slipped and fell into the river.
“I got through with the washing of the clothes and decided to take bath. I had soap all over my body, including my face. I was unable to keep further watch on Nikeh due to the soap in my eyes,” she said.
Sheriff said she got to know that Nikeh had fallen into the water only when his friends cried out; calling her (Sheriff) name in loud voices, saying that he (Nikeh) has fallen into the water.
She said the boys who called her attention to the incident were all of Tiah’s age range, thereby making it very difficult for her to have gotten help in saving the life of her nephew.
“The boys were not at a long distance away from us, that is why they were able to see him falling but neither they nor I could save Tiah,” she said as she broke down in tears.
The Town Chief of Bachakeh, Sylvester Taylor, said he was touched by the tragic incident but called on his people to be calm as the divers tried their utmost best to recover Tiah’s body, dead or alive.
“I called on the Police and they came from the Grand Cape Mount side. They have already taken the aunt of the boy with them and have advised that we find divers who will look for the boy, dead or alive, in the river,” Taylor said.
Although the Town Chief did not give the name of the lady who is said to be the aunt of the victim, he disagreed that Matu Sheriff is the real aunt of the Tiah, the boy who drowned.
I am told that the mother of the boy is coming from Buchanan now.
He was doubtful about any possibility of finding Tiah alive in the water.
“Since 12 p.m. today we got the information of the drowning of the boy and so I cannot presume that he is still alive,” the Town Chief said. By this time, it was between 3PM and 4PM. “All we are after now is to get his body out as soon as possible in order to disallow fishes and other water animals from eating his body,” he said.
When asked as to whether the town has experienced the drowning of anyone since his coming into office as the head of the town, Taylor said Tiah’s case is the first, even though other drownings have happened before his coming into office.
The Town Chief of Bachakeh, Sylvester Taylor, has meanwhile informed officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) assigned in the county to investigate the incident.