Questions Asked About Ordinary Seaman Ronald Harvey Butcher's Death While On Duty For The Barbados Coast Guard

Submitted by Shelly

Ordinary Seaman Ronald Harvey Butcher aged 23

The Late Ordinary Seaman Ronald Harvey Butcher, dead at 23 years old (click image to read obituary)

It is now 3.33 am, Tuesday 29th March. I am unable to sleep because I am thinking deeply about a young soldier that died in the hands of the Barbados  Guard who did not have to die so young and in the  manner in which he did. On Friday morning, March 4, 2010, Ronald Harvey Butcher took ill while at Sea. The ship returned to base.

This young man remained at the Coast guard headquarters for the entire Friday and was pronounced drunk by the Coast Guard. This conclusion was reached because he was speaking incoherently, stuttering; wrenching with pain from an excruciating headache and vomiting, He was given drips  intravenously and put to rest.

As time passed the condition of this young man became worse. Twenty four hours had elapsed before this young man was taken to the Queen Elizabeth hospital on the Saturday morning to get professional medical attention. When he was given a CT scan of his head doctors diagnosed that he had had an aneurism and he had massive bleeding to the brain. This young man lapsed into a coma and was place on life support. His heart continued to beat for ten days. He died on the 15th of March 2011.

My main concerns are:

  • Are there certified medical practitioners at the Coast guard headquarters?
  • Why did it take them 24 hours to transport that man to the QEH?
  • Why was [sic] his mother informed about his illness  as soon as the ship returned to the Coast Guard headquarters?
  • Why did they assume he was drunk because he was speaking incoherently, did they perform a breathalyser test? If so What were the readings?

I  know that their ineptitude cannot bring him back to his family again, but I trust that in future the Coast Guard officials will be more   professional, humane and vigilant in their handling of all human beings in their care to ensure that no mother or family would experience the pain and suffering that Ronald’s mother and his family have experienced and continue to experience.

0 thoughts on “Questions Asked About Ordinary Seaman Ronald Harvey Butcher's Death While On Duty For The Barbados Coast Guard

  1. they are medical personnel at the bdf hq, and an ambulance which is usually their, in all the bdf owns 2 land rover ambulances, a chevy ambulance and a mercedese sprinter 4 in all. one is usually at that fascility given it is not on call or on maintenance or training.
    the gentleman suffered an aneurism which is hard to diagnose often times as the symptoms resemble other things such as a state of drunkenness.
    i hope some kind of conspiracy is not being suggested here because nothing of that nature existed in that situation

  2. My heartfelt condolences to the family of Ronald. Shelly, you are hurting deeply and you are seeking answers. You may not get all the answers – however, any negligence on the part of the officers-in-charge should be noted through thorough investigation. The family will have to request that and follow through. It will be painful and tearful you have to be strong to endure the process. Patience will heal – but unanswered questions usually bring back to memory an open wound and the hurt starts afresh. Pursue your answers and be patient and positive that the soldier was in good stead.

    May God richly bless you and the family at this time.

  3. I commend the Coast Guard for its work and pray regularly that our God will be their eyes and protection whilst carrying out their duties.

    @Reality “i hope some kind of conspiracy is not being suggested here because nothing of that nature existed in that situation”

    I don’t understand this comment. Were you present at this situation. Based on what Shelly said the fallen soldier was treated as a person who was just ‘drunk.’ The family would be interested in knowing that their family member was given the best possible treatment whilst ‘under the weather’ in the care of a watchful, alert, eveready-responsive Coast Guard.

  4. @reality

    It does not matter if the BDF has medical support, it is not a hospital. It does not matter if the symptoms of an aneurysm will mask others, the valid question should be what is the procedure for managing sick soldiers.

  5. To the family and friends of the young man. I pray that GOD be with you during this period of grief, and continue to be with you even after; If the symptoms of an aneurism is like a drunken person, this is very difficult to point a finger at the Cost Guard and staff. The question would be was he a person who drank while on duty? Or is it a common thing for the crew to indulge in drinking while on duty? I know what it’s like to loos a love one so young. But GOD’S PLANS can never be change; . I honestly feel that which ever way we leave this Earth, that was the way it was meant to be;. I am sure that this is hard for you to deal with at this time. But cherish all the time that you have spent with Ronald, and pray that his death was not in vain.
    I know what it feels like to loose a child so young. I had one of my daughters who was 3 years old at the time got struck by a car when her and another little girl who was older were crossing the street. The funny part of it was that the older child never got hit by the car. My daughter was in a coma for a month. She never walked again, and was confined to a wheel chair until she died at age 26;
    May GOD be with you during this period while you are grieving and even after; Just cherish all the moments that you shared with Ronald,and if it’s GOD’S will, one day you will meet again;

  6. I have heard terrible stories of the evil of Barbadian Forces personnel, which I have no reason to doubt. I trust that this young man’s death will be properly and thoroughly investigated!

  7. How easy to jump on the band wagon in putting down the BDF. During my service ,miles from these shores, I’ve known of a case where, of all places,in a medical unit, a high ranking highly skilled Medical Officer was called to look at one of his men, he misdiagnosed and the man died next day.

  8. Why didn’t they take him straight to the QEH when they came ashore? Was it a qualified medical doctor who pronounced the young man drunk or a commanding officer with a basic First Aid certificate? You cannot work based on assumptions which might be way off target when it comes to a medical emergency. I extend my condolences to the young man’s family and indeed the Coast Guard family.

  9. Man wiv no name, you are on track here because firstly it is clear that Ordinary Seaman Ronald was being penalised on the assumption that he was drunk because a medically untrained officer thought it best to isolate him from his mother; by not informing her on the Friday that he was ill and also when he attempted to contact his girlfriend from his bed , he snatched the phone and shouted in the girlfriend’s ear ” Ronald is drunk. When he get himself together he COULD speak to you” All that time on the Friday Ronald was still conscious and never was his mother nor family, who, if contacted would or could have given him the best available medical attention available here or overseas if it were unavailable at the QEH.

  10. The question is was it negligence on the part of the coast guard. Certainly if one is drunk, you can smell the alcohol on the person’s breath. Whatever the case their needs to be a thorough investigation to allay the anguish of the family. In these circumstances the coast guard must be sensitive to the grieve of the family.

  11. Can you imagine that some jackass decided on this man’s fate.This kind of nonsense happens every day at work places in Barbados especially in some Offices. People complain about sickness such as Sick Building syndrome, personal problems related to their well being and comfort and other people -some ignorant bosses, play doctor even though that thay dont have a medical degree, they pretend that they know more than the doctors and always believe that someone is faking illness. This NONSENSE HAS TO STOP !

    We got some ignorant JOKERS in Barbados running the country down in all spheres of activities and I am not talking about Politicians but I am talking about the ordinary person who seem to think that their role is to punish people with hatred and who, put in charge of people, make their lives HELL: Where did this behaviour come from ?

    And it is to be found in Sports; politics;public service; cropover; cricket –every activity being negatively impacted by IDIOTS. I dont know where these people come from. I hazard a guess that THE educational system is to blame. Too many idiots in the teaching service just working for money and dont care what they do to this country. A lot of assholes walking bout talking bout they went to this school and the next school and Combermere this and that and a lot of shak . Big people who left school 50 years ago walking about talking shite about my school and bare shite going on in the country-(sick people). Where are the leaders ? We need people to lead but nowadays everything is about material possessions, everything is about me , whats in it for me -safeguarding my position so I stand up for nothing-I dont want to offend, so I turn a blind eye and pretend that it is nothing to with me as though you live somewhere else and what happens in Barbados because when you get in your car and drive to your space somewhere, you feel it cant touch you whatever it is.

    Public Officers doing shite, Personnel Adminstration doing shite BCA doing shite–Imagine CCC beat Barbados and Dwayne Smith aint play yet. Somebody should be fired. Selectors doing bare shite. Dont talk about West Indies cricket. Public Service beset by problems -Airport workers-Standars falling down-youngsters not listening. older persons setting BAD examples–the whole gamut
    Eveything is confused –This comment is written in this way to actively demontrate that fact..

    These things might seem unrelated, what I am saying might seem frivilous but there is a connection because they impinged on things that we know as Barbadians and these things are slipping, Barbados is slipping in these areas and we dont seem to have leaders who are ‘aware’–they seem to be asleep

    But you know what ? After all the talk –no action !
    It is time for white people to run the country or maybe the Muslims——Blacks have failed but wait ! Blacks built this country, the education system et al
    –Yes but under guidance from White people
    Black, White, Muslims –Barbados needs all hands on deck
    Which deck ? The Ship seem to be sinking—When you see the water rising over the bow –Run ! If you hear a loud Roar from the sea Run Run–Plastic Bag say SO on TV so so you should run and he , they say , is the Lyrical Master.
    I think that he talking shite
    Where yuh going run and go ???
    Save Barbados !

    • The issue not whether the BDF has good doctors, it is whether it was right to prevent his family from communicating or to visit with him during the sickness.

      Also we don’t know how the medical equipment which is available at the QEH would have helped.

  12. My condolences to you and your family on the passing of this young man. Gone too soon.
    Many members of my family are members of the two Forces and I can verify that the BDF has some of the finest doctors on board. All my sons were once soldiers and were hospitalised at St.Ann’s on more than one occasion and the treatment was excellent.
    Very few, if any persons seldom survive an aneurism. Even the best doctors can misdiagnose at times. I know this only too well. I lost my first born son because of this 35yrs ago. He was still-born.

    May he rest in peace and I pray that you will find solace in this lil ‘piece’ from me. From one mother to another:

    A Child of Mine
    I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine, He said.
    For you to love while he lives, and mourn when he is dead
    It may be 6 or 7 years or twenty two or three
    But will you, til I calll him back, take care of him for me?

    He’ll bring his charms to gladden you, but should his stay be brief
    You’ll have his lovely memories, as a solace for your grief
    I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return
    But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn

    I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true
    And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you
    Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labour vain
    Nor hate Me when I come to call, to take him back again?

    I fancied that I heard them say, “Dear Lord, Thy will be done
    For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we’ll run
    We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may
    And for happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay

    But should the angels call for him much sooner than we’d planned
    We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.

    R.I.P Ronald.

  13. David
    de army got sum rale igrunt rules n regulations dat dem does tink cannnn be bended. stupseeeeeeeeeeee

    i doan kno how much help medical equipment could be with a aneurism. it is just one a dem deadly tings like a stroke or heart attack. ya lucky if ya survive.
    i feel sorry fa de youngsta doe.

  14. David
    de army got sum rale igrunt rules n regulations dat dem does tink cannnn be bended. stupseeeeeeeeeeee.
    You ain’t wrong Bonny P. During a military operation in a BadAssland,one of our Majors gave an order to an NCO to shoot dead the first man to come through the ambush he had just set up. Absentmindedly the Major later walked into the ambush area and was shot in the eye. He later charged the NCO for disobeying a direct order too kill the first man(he ) to enter the ambush.

  15. My condolences to the family of Ronald Butcher. I am sorry to hear that it appears he was misdiagnosed and did not get prompt medical attention. The death of an apparently healthy young person is very hard to bear. But why did it thought that he was drunk? Is it normal for coast guardsmen to be drunk while on duty? And if that is normal then is our coastguard truly guarding us?
    Once I saw a woman stumbling down Roebuck Street and then she stopped and sat with her feet in the gutter. At first I thought that she was drunk, but then it struck me that even though her clothes were of poor quality, they were very clean and very neat, as though she had dressed to come to town on an important errand. And she was about 60ish, and I went over to her and asked what was the problem. She was barely able to mutter that she was diabetic, and because I have a number of diabetics in my family I realized that she was not drunk, but going into a diabetic coma. She was near to the then NHC office and some of the staff came out, took her inside, gave her a little sweet drink and called the ambulance.

    So yes a person stumbling along the street may not be drunk, but may be going into a diabetic coma.

    So apparent drunknenness can sometimes be genuine illness.

    We can never be too careful.

  16. hi Shellya, it just goes to show that Bajans can be as ignorant as anybody else. My worry is that this failing might be much more prevalent than we suspect!

    ” ……I am talking about the ordinary person who seem to think that their role is to punish people with hatred and who, put in charge of people, make their lives HELL: Where did this behaviour come from ?”

    Rambling, just goes to prove my statement! Agree with every word u said. Thank god I don’t live there any more!

    You can rely on Bonny to talk absolute sense! There’s a great deal of sense in what u said Bonny, but there’re still some shites out there!

    ‘Random Thoughts’, a useful contribution. Thank u.

  17. ‘Random’, some of those shites to whom u referred are on here too! There permeate the Bajan community!

  18. @Nationalist
    I have had such a good laugh at your case senario of the ambush that I for a moment forgot the seriousness of the whole affair.At least the shot in de eye got the right target!Now I have heard everything!
    I am not ammused that a life so short lived by the deceased longshoreman could have been lost at the dictates of the army.Sad to say this will be an open an shut case.My hope is that the family will be comforted by the fact that he chose to give service to his country.

  19. I stand corrected at the job title of the deceased which I earlier stated was Longshoreman .It is in actual fact Ordinary Seaman Ronald Butcher.

  20. Nationalist
    de NCO was charged because he deliberately disobeyed the order:

    LOLLL, de Major should be deadddd not blind.

  21. Whereas it is true that they are excellent facilities at St Ann’s Fort and good doctors attending, and whereas this man’s prognosis seems to have been poor anyhow, in my opinion the ignorant officcr who seemed to have confined this man to barracks…….and thus to his death, erred tremendously.

    One wonders what history and examination he used to come to the diagnosis of drunkenness? What tests did he do to confirm this opinion? Did he in his gross ignorance as a medical illiterate understand that there is a differential diagnosis that ought to have been considered here?

    Does this moron know that the smell of alcohol is not enough to come to a diagnosis of drunkenesss. Did he check the man’s blood alcohol levels, or was his opinion due to the fact that his own alcohol levels were raised. They must have been, for him to have come to the stupid decision he made.

    I hope that this twit will be severely punished for practicing medicine in Barbados with out the appropriate training and licensure. Typical bajan idiocy!

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