The remains of 14 year-old Sheku, from the Brewerville community, resurfaced from within the swallows of a lagoon on June 17, 2017, 18 hours after he plunged off of a makeshift bridge he had been crossing on his way back home. The monkey bridge broke under his feet and ‘Sheku could not swim.’
With much investigation into his falling, community dwellers stated there was ‘no one around’ when the teen fell to his death to have saved him. But a boy, who claims to have been present when Sheku plunged, remembers a horrible scene.
“He almost reached to the other side when his foot slipped and the sticks underneath him went into the water and he fell. The bridge is high up, but when it rains, the water covers it,” he stated. “Sheku waved his arms for help but he was in too much shock to yell.”
According to community dwellers, the monkey bridge was established by members from both Massaquoi town and the island across the water that bears a small population of people. The makeshift bridge was created using reed sticks, nail and vine thread. Everyone crossing it knows its dangers, especially during the raining season.
Sheku is not the first person to have lost his life in such a manner on a makeshift bridge and around the interior parts. There are many such bridges that look like a ‘death trap’ if crossed.
Meanwhile, community dwellers and the relatives of the deceased teen say their ‘eyes have been opened’ about the dangers to their own safety and want the bridge to be built more securely.
“Seriously, we have wanted this bridge to be fixed, especially now that raining season is here. When it rains, the entire Lagoon reaches to about 5-6 feet in length and reaches all the way into the town. When they said this boy fell into the water, we were not surprised because many people fall into it when crossing,” stated Laye, a motorcyclist who took this reporter to the scene of the accident.
Meanwhile, some people who came across the teen’s fate say they recall Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once walking across such a makeshift bridge last year and recall her hesitation as she did.
“There’s no way that the president does not know about these bridges because she has even helped in reconstructing some that have actually killed people,” Laye added.
In as much, there was also a photo that surfaced in the media a couple of months ago, of one of Liberia’s presidential runners, Hon. Cummings, being carried across a monkey bridge by some men.
“They know how dangerous it is to cross one, that’s why they lifted him on a hammock and toted him across,” Laye added.
The site of such has sparked the community in wanting a change, before someone else ‘has to die,’ they said.
“We don’t have money or safe equipment to go into the water and build a new bridge and really need some of our politicians, especially those living in and around VOA Estate, to come in and help us,” stated Nooch, a relative of the late Sheku’s.
According to the late Sheku’s family, the death “such a helpful and friendly boy” in the community is a big loss; Sheku was of help to everyone around him.
“We later learned that a woman sent him across the bridge where he fell, it was there we bathed his body, clothed him and buried him. If anyone goes there now, you will see the marking, something we hope people will never forget happened to this child,” added his cousin Nooch.