Ministry of Health: Marine on Abaco died from cardiac arrest

A Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) marine, who was stationed on Abaco, died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The ministry issued a statement yesterday evening after reports circulated on social media that the marine, Petty Officer Scott Wallace, 43, had died from an infection contracted while on the island.

“The Ministry of Health is aware of a misleading story circulating on social media regarding the unfortunate death of a Royal Bahamas Defence Force marine,” the ministry said.

“We wish to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased marine. The misleading story is replete with reckless and untrue assertions and allegations. The facts are that [Royal Bahamas] Defence Force Marine Wallace suffered a cardiac arrest after presenting to the Marsh Harbour Clinic at 6 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday, September 24, 2019).

“He succumbed after emergency air evacuation and was pronounced dead at Doctors Hospital in Nassau.”

The ministry said an autopsy will be conducted to confirm the exact cause of Wallace’s death “and the relation to his known chronic medical illnesses which were evident at the time of his presentation”. 

One of Wallace’s relatives said he was deployed to Abaco to assist with relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian – a catastrophic Category 5 storm that decimated the island earlier this month.

However, the ministry said, “There is no evidence that his death was in any way related to his posting in Abaco, the environment, air or water.”

It continued, “Out of an abundance of caution, we have also examined 17 other Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Royal Bahamas Police Force officers; one other had symptoms of a rash and respiratory symptoms.”

The ministry noted that there is “no specific or generalized risk of inhabitation” on the island.

“The MOH and our partner agencies, including PAHO, continue to monitor the islands and have discovered no quarantinable illnesses or hazards that threaten the populations attempting to return to their homes and businesses,” the ministry said.

“We find that this reckless and irresponsible claim distracts from the everyday efforts of all positive-minded individuals and we remind the public not to share such ‘reports’ unless from a reputable and credible source.”

The RBDF released a statement last night confirming that Wallace was deployed to Abaco on September 20, “where he was actively engaged in providing relief assistance along with members of the RBDF contingent during the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian”.

“A dedicated marine, Petty Officer Wallace enlisted in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force as a member of New Entry 33/Woman Entry 7, on October 26, 1998,” the RBDF said.

“Over the course of his 20-year career, he had provided the defense force and his country with exemplary service as an engineer in the Hull Section of the Engineering Department, as well as a member of the engineering team aboard HMBS Bahamas.”

RBDF Commodore Tellis Bethel extended condolences on behalf of the RBDF to Wallace’s family and friends.

“It is our prayer that God’s grace will provide peace and comfort during this time of bereavement,” the RBDF said.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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