Mother recalls horror of child’s death on playground

Davanya Butler, 7, was on her way to a playground with friends when she turned around and told her mother that she loved her and she would see her later, her mother Carmetta Butler said yesterday.

But Butler never saw her daughter alive again.

Police said she was playing on a swing set at the St. Bede’s Catholic Church playground on Sutton Street, off Kemp Road, last Thursday evening when it collapsed on her.

“My daughter left me with a group of friends and said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to play. Give me $2 to buy a cold soda,’” the 40-year-old mother said.

She said her daughter took the money and placed it in her pocket and bounced off with her friends.

“She said, ‘Mommy, I love you and I’ll see you later,’” Butler recalled.

“Two hours later, the same place Davanya leave me I was still there. I heard the children coming, running down saying, ‘Oh, come get her, come get her. The swing fall on Davanya and Davanya bleeding and Davanya ain’t breathing. We tried to get her to talk and Davanya wasn’t talking.’”

Butler, who fought back tears throughout the interview, said she raced to her daughter.

When she got to the park, after scaling a small wall, she found her daughter on the ground.

“My baby was already dead,” she said.

She went into great detail about her daughter’s injuries, noting that her neck appeared to be broken.

“I said, ‘Davanya, this mommy, just say something for mommy just to know that you are alive,’” Butler said.

“My baby didn’t say anything to me.”

Butler said she grabbed her daughter’s body and held her for half an hour until the ambulance came.

She said the pain has been especially difficult because she buried her eldest child in March.

Her son, Keith Sweeting Jr., 21, was murdered in January, she said.

“Now I have to bury my baby who was seven,” said Butler, who now has five children.

“She was never sick; always was a joyful person; always was a sweet person; always with a smile.

“She always have you laughing. Davanya was never a problem child. Davanya was a darling heart to everyone who came into contact with her.”

Butler is also upset over the state of the playground and questioned why such an unsafe space was open to the public.

Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder said yesterday that he could not comment on the state of the playground as a police investigation is ongoing.

In a statement, the Catholic Archdiocese of Nassau offered condolences to the family.

“Every life has dignity,” the church said.

“Every life is precious.”

Butler said she’s not sure what she will do next.

“I miss my baby,” she said, her voice cracking.

“That’s all I had. That was my happiness. That was my sadness, my weakness, my strength. I need someone to help me because I am lost. I don’t know what to do.”

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.

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