Sunday February 24 2008
by A. Aisha Caleb-Browne
Carlton Fitzherald Sancho, an employee of the Antigua Distillery Limited (ADL) who fell into one of three uncovered hot mix tanks at his workplace, the Antigua Distillery Limited (ADL), has died.
The 30-year-old Guyana national succumbed to burn related complications and died at approximately 8 p.m. last Saturday, mere hours after friends and relatives took to the airwaves in an urgent appeal for O-negative blood.
The preliminary cause of death according to medical personnel is said to be stress ulcers, which in medical term is referred to as stress gastritis, the sudden swelling of the stomach lining. Left untreated, this may lead to ulcers and bleeding, and may occur after burns, shock, trauma or severe illness.
Sancho endured third degree burns to his legs and his groin and stomach areas on 11 Feb., when during his four to 12 work shift, he fell into the tank which measures 10 to 12 ft in depth.
A day after the incident, the Antigua Sun spoke to the patient at the hospital at which time he explained that he had gone to the hot mix area to change the wash, which is a mixture of molasses, steam and yeast used to make the alcohol. He said that on his way to the area, all three of the tanks used to release waste were open; the requirement was that they be kept sealed. As he manoeuvred to make his way from one side of the plant to the other he slipped and fell.
The young man and his sister, Onika Dey, were visited by a few members of the ADL management who reportedly promised to undertake the task of securing further medical attention, including overseas treatment if necessary. But up until the time of his death, Dey said that the help had not been forthcoming.
Hours after her brother's death, Dey told this newspaper that she is not sure what would be her next step. The obviously distraught woman, also a Guyana national, said that she and Sancho attempted to discuss with one of the brothers who managed the ADL the prospect of having her brother flown overseas for further assessment and treatment.
However, she said that little assistance was rendered, contradicting initial offers for aid. Dey also said that she is now fearful that the company may not want to undertake the expenses of flying Sancho back to Guyana for burial.
"The company may not want to fly him away and they may say is not their job. They only came back the Friday to bring his money from work, and they didn't come back again. Even when we called to tell them that he needed blood, and they didn't do anything."
The bereaved added that after they were making no headway with the initial appeal for blood, she suggested to the ADL management that they bring Sancho's father to the country, as he was not only a correct blood match, but will also be able to help care for their kin.
"He said that he was going with that idea. Then he called back and say he don't think he's going to bother with that yesterday (Saturday) when he died, then we call the boss to tell him and he wouldn't even answer his phone. Is today (Sunday) my cousin called and my cousin got him," she said.
Dey told the SUN that she will be seeking the counsel of an attorney to see what should be the family's recourse.
The SUN attempted to contact management of ADL but was unsuccessful.