WHEN Elorine Smith heard that a motor car and a minibus had collided in the Bog Walk Gorge on June 8, she called her mother, Valerie Ennis, to alert her to the possibility of a traffic delay.

Ennis, who lived in Angels, St Catherine, had, for the past seven years, been helping out at the Border-Mark Restaurant Smith and her spouse Mark Francis operate in Linstead.

“The phone rang twice and went to voicemail the other times, but it was not until the evening that I realised I called her 25 times. I have never called her so many times with her not responding, but I was still shaking it off to say she is probably in the gorge and the signal was poor,” Smith told the Jamaica Observer early last week.

However, when her mother did not arrive at the restaurant, Smith, fearing that she was a passenger in the car, asked her spouse to check at Linstead Hospital.

“I told him to go and check as there was a car and a bus in the accident and I ruled out my mom being on the bus. He said he was questioned when he went to the hospital, and they gave him a description of the person who died, which was a woman who had low blonde hair, and they told him that her body had gone to the morgue at Robert’s Funeral Home,” Smith explained.

Ennis, 59, was the sole fatality in the crash that occurred about 9:30 am. Police said the car was heading to Spanish Town, while the bus was travelling in the opposite direction towards Bog Walk.

The force of the collision pushed the Toyota Hiace bus off the road into the river, from which local divers pulled nine people, including Ennis.

Four people were removed from the car, a Toyota Fielder.

According to Smith, when Francis got to the funeral home, he was not allowed to identify Ennis’s body as he did not have any documents for her. However, the funeral home officials confirmed her name.

Shaken by the knowledge that his spouse’s mother was dead, Francis chose not to call Smith, opting instead to break it to her gently and in person.

“When he came and he said to me, ‘Check your [blood] pressure’, and when I checked it and saw that it was elevated, I knew something was wrong,” 45-year-old Smith told the Sunday Observer.

“He told me to sit beside him to get the pressure down. At this point my body was numb, and then he told me my mom’s name was at the front desk [at the morgue].

“I didn’t know if I was floating, I didn’t know if I was still standing, but I know my entire body went numb. It was my entire world crashing down in front of me… she was always with me,” said Smith, the eldest of her mother’s three daughters.

According to Smith, the last conversation she had with her mother was the evening before the deadly crash. A phone call at the end of each day between the two had become something of a ritual.

However, that evening, Smith had missed her mother’s call and decided to return it.

“When I called her back, her precise words were, ‘If something should happen to me, I couldn’t call you,’ and I said, ‘Nothing is going to happen to you,’” Smith shared, breaking down in tears.

“Just thinking about it, my entire body is shaking. That was the last conversation I had to with my mom and it’s very hard,” added Smith.

Ennis’s second daughter, 37-year-old Natasha Ennis, who lives in Grenada, shared that she has been trying to cope with the loss by recalling fond memories of her mother.

“I am not physically there, but I strongly believe that based on how the event unfolded, it was her time. I trust in the process that the reason [for her] death will be revealed soon,” she said.

Asked to share her fondest memory, the daughter said: “There are too many travelling together, the simple things that she would do; it’s a lot.”

The youngest daughter, Tashauna Ennis Patterson, 34, shared one special trait of her mom. “I love how caring she was. Whenever anybody needed anything, she always put them first. She taught me how to stand up for myself and be good to others as it always comes back,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ennis’s brother, Alexander Wade, who celebrated his 70th birthday two Saturdays ago, recalled that his sister, who had worked as a tin controller at Nestl Jamaica Limited for more than 20 years, would always call him on his special day.

“She would call me on my birthday and say, ‘Happy birthday, bro’ but [this year] I didn’t hear that. She’s my sister, but she is like my daughter as I have been taking care of her since she was about one-year-old, even when our mother went to the market. Everyday we’d talk, and since she died it’s like something hit me. I can’t recover from the accident. It is unbelievable and unbearable,” said Wade.

At Whitehouse Housing Scheme in Linstead, where Ennis once lived, an 82-year-old man, who gave his name only as Murray, described Ennis, who was known to many as Pansy, as a good woman.

“I have known her for about 30 years. Pansy is a nice lady. When we heard the news, bwoy it lick wi,” he said, noting that her friends in the community cried openly.

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