‘I saw a hero through the light’ – Girl, 11, pays tribute at saviour’s funeral

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Keishallene Lewis-Morrison (in black), Otis Morrison’s widow, breaks down in tears Thursday upon viewing the body of the 36-year-old father who drowned after saving Tahira Checkley, 11, at Clifton Hill beach, Point Fortin. – Marvin Hamilton

THERE was not a dry eye among mourners at the Evangelical Fundamental Spiritual Baptist Church as Tahira Checkley, the child Otis Morrison saved while sacrificing his own life, read a poem titled My Hero at his funeral on Thursday.

“I once saw a hero through the light, who pushed aside the waves with all his might. Brave and fearless he stroked towards me, making sure I was brought to safety. Heroes walk among us, but never for glory or praise, neither do they seek recognition for their thoughtful, caring ways.

“A legend, a true soldier, angel on earth, they described him to be, but in my eyes he is my guardian angel, always looking over me,” Checkley, 11, read.

Mourners invited to reflect on Morrison’s life, all agreed that he did not just die a hero, but lived the life of one, just without the cape. They described him as an angel on earth, one who was always charitable, helping anyone and everyone in need.

Otis Morrison drowned while at Clifton Hill beach, Point Fortin.

His sister, Natalie Phillip, spoke about his love for family, especially his wife Keishallene Lewis-Morrison and their two daughters, Kylie and Kailie Morrison.

She said he was loving husband and dedicated father, a gentleman, hard-working, honest and the epitome of a leader. She said he will never be forgotten but remain forever in their hearts.

Having baptised Morrison and officiated at his wedding, some 21 months ago, Pastor Franklin C Howard said he felt the loss in “my guts like he was my own son.”

He said when Morrison, 37, without thinking twice, rescued Checkley, “God was using him to do good because he was a servant of God.

“He did not know when he went to save a life he was sacrificing his own. There were tons of people on the beach that day, but only Otis went out to save that child. He stood in the water with his arms raised, holding that child on his shoulders, long enough for the jet ski to come and get her to safety.

“But then God took a father, a husband, a son, from us because he knew he was ready.”

Pondering on the call for lifeguard service at the Clifton Hill beach where Morrison died, Pastor Howard called on former Point Fortin mayor Francis Bertrand to use whatever political sway he still had to impress upon his government to take care of the people of the Borough.

Bertrand spoke at the service about a safety initiative during his tenure, including lifeguard service, which he intends to resurrect.

“Everywhere else benefit, but Point Fortin has to wait.”

He said the Point Fortin constituency has been unwavering in its support for the People’s National Movement (PNM), “We are the last to get anything.

Tahira Checkley’s poem to Otis Morrison. – Marvin Hamilton

“I want to tell those in authority, when you do wrong my God will deal with them. I am asking you please,” he told Bertrand, “don’t let Him (God) do that.

“Tell those people up there, they need to see about the children down here. They need to see about the children in Point Fortin, and when I saw children, I mean all of us.

“I want whoever get into authority to get this thing passed. Their silence is deafening. The time is now. We want joy to come in the morning. We want lifeguards and much more that. We want you to take care of our people,” he said.

As the coffin was opened and mourners invited for a final viewing, Morrison’s younger daughter stood before him pouring her heart out as she called out, “Daddy, Daddy.”

His broken-hearted older daughter, did not accept the invitation, but sought comfort in the arms of relatives as she wept uncontrollably.

Morrison was buried at the Brighton Cato cemetery at Gonzales Village, Guapo where he lived.