DORIAN COURT: Niece recalls seeing photo of her dead aunt’s body circulating online days after storm

DORIAN COURT: Niece recalls seeing photo of her dead aunt’s body circulating online days after storm
Dorian wreaks havoc in the Abacos. Source: Facebook

Elderly aunt and uncle told niece “they would be fine” at home in last moments together before Dorian struck

No help arrived for days

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The niece of Juanita Lowe and Leroy Lowe, a brother and sister who were last seen the day before Hurricane Dorian hit, claims she saw a photo of her aunt’s body on a flatbed truck circulating a day later.

Emily Bethel, the Lowes’ niece, was testifying during an ongoing coroner’s inquest into people presumed dead and reported to police as missing during the catastrophic storm.

Bethel told the court that the day before Dorian hit on Sunday, September 1, 2019, she visited her aunt and uncle at their Grant Street, Marsh Harbour, home to give them supplies and groceries.

She said they told her they were going to stay in their home, where they spent many other hurricanes.

“They said they would be fine,” Bethel said.

That was the last time she saw her aunt and uncle alive.

According to her testimony, Bethel was staying in Sweetings Village when the storm hit and had her own battle with the deadly storm, being unable to get out of her home until days later.

Damage from the storm was so severe that her son was unable to make it to her house from his home — a route that normally took five minutes — until Tuesday, September 3, and after nearly three hours of walking and crawling over debris.

Bethel said though she does not know what happened to her aunt and uncle, in the days after the storm, she received a photo on her phone of her aunt’s body on the back of a flatbed truck.

The photo was timestamped as Monday, September 2, after 6pm.

She noted that on that day, the weather was still bad and help still had not arrived on the island until Wednesday.

She did not say whether she ever saw the body again.

Bethel told the court she returned to the house her aunt and uncle lived in, but found it had collapsed and all that remained was cement rubble.

Debris was piled behind the home for up to six feet, apparently dragged by the storm surge.

In the days after the storm, Bethel took her now 86-year-old mother to submit DNA testing and file missing persons reports for her aunt and uncle.

But she told the court the family has yet to receive any information on whether there was a match for her mother’s DNA sample.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.