Acting on reports from members of the public last week, police on Grand Bahama located two sets of human remains in the east Grand Bahama settlement of Pelican Point, according to officer in charge of the island’s Central Detective Unit (CDU) Brian Rolle.
It is the first time since last October that human remains have been discovered in the island’s areas hardest hit by Hurricane Dorian.
Of the first discovery reported by residents on January 26, Rolle in an interview with Perspective on Saturday said, “Officers who I have working this operation went to the scene where they recovered skeletal remains which were not intact — a skull, spine, ribs, a femur bone and so forth.”
He continued, “In this case, the bones were brittle and white, there was no soft tissue attached and in that particular area I think there used to be a graveyard but we are still operating in the same mode as remains found after the storm and those remains were taken to the morgue where they will be sent for analysis to see if they match any of the persons in our DNA database.”
Extensive storm surge flooding in east Grand Bahama not only destroyed homes, businesses and churches, but unearthed coffins at cemeteries throughout the settlements, many of which we observed during post-storm visits to the storm-stricken areas.
Of the second reported discovery on January 30, Rolle advised that, “On the beach a short distance away, human remains were discovered and these remains in my view are fitting something more recent as there was still soft tissue attached.
“I suspect the remains located on the 30th may be of one of the [storm victims] who are missing.”
Those remains, he added, were also taken to the morgue to be prepped for DNA analysis.
The missing person count on Grand Bahama in the aftermath of Dorian stands at 22, with DNA results pending on the remains of two individuals — a little boy and an adult female.
Last month, Rolle told us that his team was preparing to mobilize drone searches in the island’s eastern settlements, but that operation did not follow through as planned, according to the island’s lead detective.
“We delayed the drones because there was a question of what success the drones could give us at this point rather than an actual person,” he explained.
Rolle noted that the drone that officers wished to use was also not available at the time they were ready to set out on their latest search and recovery mission.
Instead, officers continued their foot searches over a two-day period in the vicinity of the settlement of Rocky Creek, where the little boy’s remains were found last October.
Philip Thomas Sr., whose oldest son and three grandchildren are missing from the McLean’s Town settlement, told us he believed the child to be one of his grandchildren.
Rocky Creek is west of McLean’s Town and Pelican Point is west of Rocky Creek, a trend Rolle said suggests that storm victims may have been swept in a westerly direction as Dorian travelled across the eastern end of the island toward Freeport.
“Additional searches will continue throughout the Pelican Point settlement given last week’s discoveries,” he said.