Mother of drowned teen searching for answers
When Philencia Harris left for work on Monday afternoon, her 16-year-old son was alive and healthy at home.
However, an hour-and-a-half after leaving, she got a phone call informing her that her only child, Ethan Miller, drowned in waters off Junkanoo Beach.
“What happened between that hour-and-a-half?” Harris asked during an emotional interview with The Nassau Guardian.
“What happened? They still can’t tell me.”
Shortly after 4 p.m. on Monday, a juvenile male was retrieved from waters at Long Wharf Beach after drowning, according to police.
Police said he was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Harris said she was met by a team of doctors and a police officer when she arrived at the hospital.
“They [were] telling me how they [were] trying to revive him and do all of this stuff to him,” she said.
“They couldn’t get a pulse or nothing. That’s when I said, ‘Stop beating around the bush. Just tell me what’s going on with my child.’
“They told me, ‘He’s deceased.’ That’s when I broke down.”
Harris’ eyes began to fill with tears as she recalled walking to the morgue to see her son.
“They carried me on the back there and he was on the table,” she said.
“He wasn’t responding. I said, ‘Mummy’s here.’ He wasn’t responding. He wouldn’t answer me or nothing.”
Overcome with grief, Harris began to sob during the interview.
Her mother, Virginia Harris, who sat next to her on a sofa in the living room of their Deveaux Street home, rubbed the grieving mother’s arms reassuringly.
Philencia Harris continued, “They had to carry me out the room because I couldn’t take it because I left my baby home.”
Harris said she understands Ethan was with a group of other boys when he drowned.
She said the experience brought back memories from the time Ethan spent in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as an infant.
Harris said she had returned home from a trip to find her one-year-old son with a high fever and “not responding to me”.
“He wasn’t smiling or nothing and then he had a fever of 100 and something so I took him to the hospital,” she said.
Harris added, “I got the call the next morning that my child is in ICU. When I got there, he was hook up from head to toe with all kinds of things. Wires were all over him.”
Although it was a rough time for her and her family, Harris said that period solidified Ethan’s strength.
Ethan was an avid soccer player who loved Junkanoo music, according to his mother.
“He loved to joke around a lot,” she said. “He loved to clown around. He was playful.”
Harris said her son was preparing to enter his senior year of high school at Brilliant Minds Academy.
She said he had aspirations of being a chemist. He’s the second family member Harris has lost recently. Harris buried her grandmother two weeks ago.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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