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Arch Cot query

Antoinette Connell

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A probe into one of Barbados’ worst disasters is about to begin.
The deadly Arch Cot cave-in of 2007 comes up for hearing before Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris on October 18.
 About 70 witnesses are expected to testify in the case where an apartment building collapsed into a cave at Arch Cot, Brittons Cross Road, St Michael on August 26, 2007 – killing a family of five.
The inquest into the deaths of Donavere Codrington, 30, his wife Cassandra, 27; their three children, seven-year-old Shaquanda, three-year-old Shaquille and one-year-old Yashiro will start at 9:30 a.m. at the Coroner’s Court, Roebuck Street, St Michael.
Summonses have already gone out to witnesses connected to that fateful Sunday morning cave-in, including relatives of the deceased, emergency personnel and residents evacuated from the area.
Three years ago the island woke to the tragic news of the cave-in as a response team of about 200 police, fire and medical officers and disaster workers descended on the area in a search-and-rescue attempt. Silence soon replaced earlier screams for help.
Hours later a specialist unit, the Miami-Dade Rescue Team, was rushed into the island from the United States hours and, to the cheers of scores gathered at the site, descended into the deep dark hole looking for survivors. But the hope of a nation vanished with the chilling report that the sniffer dogs had detected no signs of life.
Hope turned to grief as over time, one by one the bodies of the five was retrieved from under the rubble of the two-storey apartment they had moved into only two weeks earlier.
The incident triggered uneasiness about the island’s stability in light of its vast underground network of cave.
The Arch Cot area has been reduced to a virtual ghost town, with the only frequent visitors being vagrants and vandals who dare to trespass into the danger zone.
The area is plagued with rodents and overgrown with bush as residents complained of being forgotten by authorities now that the spotlight of 2007 have gone out.
Put on hold
“If we don’t do it, nobody will come and cut this grass for us. As long as they hear Arch Cot, they put you on hold or say they will call you back, but they don’t even take the numbers,” long-time resident David Benn lamented recently.
The news of the inquests comes weeks after Shirley Linton, mother of the late Cassandra Codrington, said she had  a heavy heart because “I feel the Government forget everything ’bout what happen in Brittons Hill in 2007”.
“The Government is so slack . . . up to now I haven’t come to a closure as to what really happened and I don’t know what will happen in the future.
“You see, when you are poor they tend to drag you through the mud. If this was a rich person with initials behind their name, things would have been dealt with better,” she said back in August.
Government earlier this year said it would acquire and demolish three properties in the area.