Jemma Edwards is expecting new life, one year after her sons died in the Rock Gutter tragedy. (IWN file photo)

By Kenton X. Chance

Jemma Edwards, who lost her two sons in the Rock Gutter bus crash on Jan. 12, 2015, was not planning to have another child.

But she was happy to find out late last year that she is pregnant.

“To tell you the truth, I really didn’t plan it, but when I found out, I felt excited,” she told iWitness News on Wednesday, one day after the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, which claimed the lives of seven students.

“It was like I just lost my two boys so I would be glad to get back another one,” Edwards said of her pregnancy.

Her sons, Jamalie Edwards, 14, and Jamall Edwards, 12, and the five other students, all residents of Fancy, died when a minibus careened down a steep hill and crashed into the sea at Rock Gutter, an uninhabited area between Owia and Fancy.

Reports are that the older brother died when he went back to save his sibling.

But, unlike when she was pregnant with her third child, a 3-year-old girl, Edwards is now wishing for a son.

However, she is yet to know the sex of her unborn baby.

“I will like to know. I can’t wait to know,” she told iWitness News, adding that she will have an ultrasound soon.

Parents and relatives of the deceased students at the memorial service on Tuesday. Edwards is furthest left.
Parents and relatives of the deceased students at the memorial service on Tuesday. Edwards is furthest left.

“It’s a boy I want,” she said.

“If it’s a girl, I will not feel comfortable. I will go back (get pregnant) again because I really want back a boy. I just miss my two boys.

“Even if I have two girls, I would not be comfortable. I would still want a boy.

“Before my children died, I badly wanted a girl, because I wanted the pair — a boy and a girl. It happened that I had two boys and I was dying for a girl. Now my two boys are gone, I really want back a boy,” she said.

Edwards’ life has returned to a new normal in the year since her sons died.

Her boyfriend, Dessrand Stay, who was in prison in Martinique at the time of the tragedy, has since been released.

“Everything is okay, but I am still sad at times,” Edwards said.

“Sometimes, I shed a little tears,” she told iWitness News.

She is not sure that her daughter understands what has happened to her brothers.

The toddler sometimes says that her brothers died and are in the cemetery. At other times, she would ask where her brothers are and whether they are coming back, Edwards told iWitness News.

“So it’s like she doesn’t understand,” the mother said.

“So I would tell her that they died and they are not coming back,” said Edward, a cleaner at the International Airport Development Company.

Teacher, Gloridene Hoyte-John told iWitness News in a separate interview on Wednesday that she is still at times emotional and endures sleepless nights as a result of the accident, which claimed her son, Glenroy Michael.

“… but I’m doing a lot better,” she told iWitness News.

“I am coping. I have the support of family; I have the support of friends. I sing, I read; I try to occupy myself.”

Unlike Edwards and Hoyte-John, Nelsia Stay did not get a chance to pay her final respects to her daughter, Chanstacia Stay, who would have turned 16 last October.

Stay’s body, along with that of Simonique Ballantyne, was never recovered from the rough Atlantic waters.

“I am coping well. I am doing better than then,” Stay told iWitness News on Wednesday.

“It is something very hard to live with but I have the memories. I still get sad at times, especially when I am by myself. I try to be in other people’s company and pray a lot,” she said.

The mother of two other children — a 3-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son — relies on the support of her family.

The tragedy has changed her for the better.

“I tend to appreciate people more. My children — love them even more. But it’s like you have a puzzle and piece is just missing and you can never put it back again. My life has changed so much; it can never be the same again without my daughter. … it has been a rough, long, painful time. Although it has been a year, it still feels like just the other day it happened,” Stay said.

Portrayed of the students on display at the memorial service on Tuesday. (IWN photo)
Portraits of the students on display at the memorial service on Tuesday. (IWN photo)

Stay believes that it would have been easier for her if her daughter’s body had been recovered.

“I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to her — even you know when you are dead you can’t hear anything. Getting the body even to say goodbye or say I love you, I never got the chance to say that. “It’s like she just disappeared off the face of the earth. And that makes it even more difficult because I didn’t get the chance to see her for one final time,” Stay said.

Three residents of Fancy, Ehud Myers, a 67-year old pastor; Colbert Bowens, a 51-year-old principal; and Davanan Nanton, a 36-year-old chauffeur, have been jointly charged with causing the death by omission of the seven students: Racquel Ashton, Chanstacia Stay, Glenroy Michael, Jamall and Jamali Edwards, Simonique Ballantyne and Anique Alexander.

Stay told iWitness News that she did not want to say whether the fact that charges have been laid has helped her to cope.

She noted that the next court hearing in the matter is next week Thursday.

“There is a hearing for the 21st, which is next week, so let’s watch and see how it goes. I think that helped but let me just leave it and see.”

Hoyte-John declined to comment, saying, “I don’t want to make any comment on that.”

Edwards has mixed feeling about three of her fellow villagers being charges in connection with the incident.

“In a way, I feel sorry for them,” she told iWitness News.