44 years ago today, tragedy struck on February 11th 1978. A freak storm hit Bermuda. Three men in a boat only yards away from the shoreline drowned. Sherlene Smith, the wife of one of the men lost that day, spoke with TNN’s Trevor Lindsay. Unbeknown to Ms. Smith, Trevor, at the age of 16, was one of the people who tried to save the three men that drowned.
Trevor gave his testament to what he remembered as a beautiful sunny Saturday, when asking Ms. Smith as to what her memory brought for that day she recalled being a cashier at the Supermart on Front street. Ms. Smith recalled a customer telling her how there were winds so high that a tree had broken, but due to the calm of front street she was unaware there was even a storm to worry about.
Ms. Smith spoke of how a friend had called to tell her that her husband Keith, whom she was separated from at the time, was out on the water in the midst of the storm that had taken Bermuda by surprise
At that time Ms. Smith’s children ranged from 10 to 5 years old, she recalled how terrible it was for her children to receive the news the next day that Keith, their father and her husband, has passed.
During this conversation between Trevor and Ms. Smith, Trevor took time to share his recollection of the storm. Mr. Lindsay stated “I stayed, at that time, next to Brown Derby on Northshore Road, which was right across from the general bakery at the time. Now it is currently the First Church of God.
“Anthony Brown and I were sitting off down the rocks on North Shore there listening to music. I decided to go inside and within a ten minute span of time I looked outside down between the apartments and noticed how the wind had picked up to an abnormal level.
“My mother’s husband, Oliver Thompson, had come running asking us to assist him with removing of cloths that had blown into the trees that belong to the downstairs neighbors due to the storm. When we got downstairs we noticed three men standing in a boat just off of “white rails” the gates on Northshore to the Governor’s House.
“As we noticed three men standing in a sinking boat, within seconds one of the men disappeared. Within five to ten minutes what I witnessed was these men then being carried by the waves down to where we were.
“We attempted to save both of these men. Calvin knights, a chef at Hamilton Princess or the Bermudiana hotel who was one of the two men left on the craft, but no attempt seemed to work.
Knights was too weak from fighting the waves and eventually was swept onto the rocks. It all happened so fast that we could not get there fast enough to pull him up. Another wave came and they vanished. At 16 years old it was absolutely traumatizing.
“From my recollection, Cal Knight’s body recovered from the waters shortly thereafter just off of ZFB. Nine days later Keith Smith’s body came back up near Clay House.”
Despite the traumatic experience, the lesson I learned was, if ever you find yourself in a situation between yourself and mother nature, try not to panic and do not fight the elements, go with the flow and seize the opportunity should the chance present itself.
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