Family seeks help for crash survivor

March 13, 2023
Duwayne Copeland
Duwayne Copeland
Duwayne Copeland and his lady love Judene Smith.
Duwayne Copeland and his lady love Judene Smith.

When Judene Smith accepted Duwayne Copeland's proposal to marry him last September, it was one of the happiest moments of her life.

The pair, who share a 10-year-old daughter, have been together since age 19, but were ready to make their union official. The bubbly wife-to-be migrated from Jamaica to the Cayman Islands in 2018 to work as a practical nurse. She was soon joined by Copeland, who arrived last autumn on a work permit after quitting his job at Diageo Jamaica Limited. For Smith, 31, the future seemed set. They were both committed parents, thriving professionals and madly in love.

However, her utopian world came crashing on December 10, when Copeland and his friend Kuwayne Facey were in a fatal single-car accident in George Town, Grand Cayman. They were reportedly heading home from an event when Facey lost control of his green Honda Fit and slammed head-on into a wall along Eastern Avenue. Facey was pronounced dead on the spot while Copeland broke his right leg and suffered a massive blow to the head, which put him in a coma for two weeks. He has still not recovered. Smith told THE STAR that she was left devastated.

"I went to sleep about 2 a.m. then I woke up an hour later and realised that I didn't see him. So mi say a no him this fi no call me or message me to say that he was going to be late and me call. Me call him phone but no answer," Smith recalled. She said that about 4:30 a.m. she dreamed of him wearing only his underwear.

"So mi say something not right. From that moment I never went back to sleep, and later that morning when I went on the road somebody say to me say, 'yuh know one accident happened up the road last night', and from him tell me that mi belly bottom just move because mi just know say a him in there. Mi could a feel it," she added.

She also said that the incident is taking a toll on the entire family including their daughter.

"His mother and relatives are struggling to not break down now because it was only last August that he was in another accident in Jamaica. He was hit off his bike and suffered severe damage to the same leg that is now affected," she said. Smith said that her fiance came out of his coma on Christmas Eve, two weeks after the first of his three head surgeries. He was slated to return to Jamaica last Saturday before he got another medical setback.

"When he woke up and they removed the bandage, basically half of his head was really swollen and he was still unconscious. They gave him a trachea, which helped him to wake up from the coma. They later removed him from the critical ward but three weeks ago they had to do another head surgery on him. They did two [previous] head surgeries, one was to lift back the bone and he was to come home this week. But they said air got into the wound so he cannot go on a plane right now until they reduce the air inside," she said.

Smith said that the family is trying to find somewhere in Jamaica for Copeland, a native of Avon Park, Spanish Town, Catherine, to rehabilitate. The family is also hoping that they can get help from the public to purchase a hospital bed, valued somewhere between $250,000-$300,000, in the event they are unable to register him into a rehab centre.

"It could also come in handy if we find a place and they do not have enough beds to facilitate him. We are trying our best to find him somewhere and we are hoping that we can get assistance from the public because it is a real challenge for us right now," Smith said.

Anyone interested in helping Duwayne Copeland may contact Judene Smith at 1-345-327-5164 or wire funds to Jamaica National Bank, account number at 2094231215.

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