Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 9th 2014 Contents A2
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 9, 2014
In 1999, Catherine Bousignac lost
her pregnant mother and three elder
siblings when a car ploughed into
them as they walked along the Toco
Main Road in Vega de Oropouche.
Bousignac, two years old, who was
cradled in the arms of her 36-year-
old mother, Veena Bousignac, at the
time, was pitched on impact and fell
several feet away in the bushes.
Bousignac miraculously survived the
accident that snuffed out the lives
of five members of her family in one
Left in the care of her grieving
father Cleavland Bousignac, the
young child grew up without a moth-
er s love and never enjoyed her child-
She spent 15 years of her life mov-
ing from pillar to post, trying to cope
with her schoolwork as she played
or stood alongside her father on the
sidewalk as he sold vegetables and
root crops in Sangre Grande to eke
out a living.
Two weeks ago, Bousignac s life
was further shattered when her
father, who single-handedly raised
her from a toddler to young woman,
died at the Sangre Grande Hospital
after battling with stomach cancer.
Though Bousignac cannot recollect
the death of her mother and siblings,
she said the death of her father, 68,
has reopened fresh wounds that may
Over the years, Bousignac also had
to cope with the death of her aunt
Melissa Williams-Lopez who suffered
a massive heart attack. Eight months
later, her grandfather died.
Today, Bousignac, a 17-year-old
Form Five student of North Eastern
College, Sangre Grande, feels like the
whole world is again collapsing
Residing with one of her aunts
Veronica Williams, 48, Bousignac
admitted that she cannot come to
terms with the fact that those closest
and dearest to her are gone. "I don t
know if I will ever overcome this.
The pain is never-ending. Every day,
I ask God to give me the strength
and courage to face another day," a
distressed Bousignac said at her new
home at Jacelon Trace, Vega de
Oropouche, on Tuesday.
Recalling the tragic incident,
Williams said on the morning of
March 23, 1999, Veena, who was five
months pregnant, was walking at
the side of the bustling Toco Main
Road with her four children.
In Veena s arms was the young
Bousignac, while at her left side were
Crystal, 11, Christoper, eight, and
Cleavland Jr, five.
"Veena was taking the kids to
school when a speeding car lost con-
trol and struck them from behind,"
said Williams, who works with the
Unemployment Relief Programme.
The impact pitched Veena and her
four children several feet from the
roadway into some nearby bushes.
When the police arrived on the
scene, Veena, her unborn son, Crys-
tal, Christopher and Cleavland Jr
were pronounced dead. The young
Bousignac was not at the scene of
the accident and police and residents
started to search for her.
"We found Catherine lying
motionless near a rotted tree trunk
near a clump of grass. It was a miracle
that she was alive. She did not suffer
any major injuries but had to wear
a spine brace for a few weeks."
No justice...teen driver
never fined or jailed
To this day, Williams said, they
never got justice as the 19-year-old
driver was not fined or jailed. "Only
his licence was suspended for ten
In the months that followed,
Williams said Cleavland, who was
traumatised by the deaths, became
bull-headed and seldom took advice.
"He couldn t see the side of reason.
We asked for Catherine to live with
us, but he refused."
For years, Williams said, the young
child lived with people her father
"She lived from one house to the
next. There was no measure of sta-
bility for a young girl, which grieved
us to no end. I don t think she was
happy and neither were we. As a
father he was probably trying to pro-
tect Catherine, but this was doing
more harm than good.
"Her life was really tough. She did
not enjoy her childhood days. We
felt sorry for her, but there was noth-
ing we could have done," Williams
Bousignac admitted that her father
never allowed her to go anywhere or
play with children her age. "The one
thing he kept pounding in my head
was to get an education. I tried to
learn as much as I can."
Feeling helpless and hopeless
Unknown to her father, Bousignac
said she visited her cousins in Vega
de Oropouche, where she grew
attached to her aunt Melissa, who
gave her advice and love as a moth-
er.But as fate would have it, Melissa s
life came to a sudden end on August
7, 2011, when she suffered a massive
heart attack. And then the death of
"I felt so hopeless and helpless
seeing everyone around me dying,"
Years later, and still struggling to
cope with the deaths, Bousignac had
to rush her father to the hospital in
September after he began complain-
ing of stomach pains.
"At first I thought it was hernia.
Dad fought the pains for a long time
until he could not take it anymore."
Doctors later diagnosed Cleavland
with malignant stomach cancer and
admitted him to the hospital for
After staying on the wards for three
weeks, Cleavland was allowed to go
"Realising that his days were com-
ing to an end, dad called me one day
at his bedside and said he wanted
his burial prepared. This was the
toughest thing I had to face. It was
only then reality had set in that my
father, who raised me like a mother
single-handedly for all those years,
was going to meet his maker. It
A tearful Bousignac wrote down
her father s request on a notepad.
"He asked not to select a white
coffin and that his body be buried.
His last wish was not to have a wake."
Cleavland also instructed his daughter
to ask Williams if she would look
after her after he was gone.
"Catherine called me on the phone
a few weeks ago and asked if she
could come live with me. I was wait-
ing on this call for years. I told her
my door is always opened for her,"
Within hours, a taxi brought
Bousignac to her aunt s home with
all her belongings. Williams, who
was blessed with only a son, said she
finally got the daughter she always
"I always wanted Catherine to live
with us but it never happened. This
is her new home now, where she can
get a mother s advice, attention and
• Continues on Page A15
...Catherine Bousignac, 17, hoping for a good ending
• Car ploughs into pregnant mom, 3 siblings killing them
• Now dad dies of stomach cancer
Veronica Williams kisses her niece Catherine Bousignac at the family's home in Vega de Oropouche last week.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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