MOFA marks anniversary of Turin deaths, investigations still ongoing

MOFA marks anniversary of Turin deaths, investigations still ongoing
Foreign Service officer Alrae Ramsey (left) and Blair John, a Psychology Ph.D. student.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An investigation into the deaths of two Bahamians is ongoing nearly a year after their bodies were pulled from a river in Italy.

The bodies of Alrae Ramsey, a 29-year-old Foreign Service Officer, and Blair John, a 28-year-old Psychology Ph.D. student, were discovered by Italian authorities in waters of the River Po in Turin on June 4 and June 5, 2019, respectively.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs marked the anniversary of initial reports that Ramsey had been found in “distressing circumstances”.

According to MOFA, the ministry had received “word” about the foreign service officer on May 29 – some five days before his body was discovered.

The ministry noted the government remains “fully engaged” in the investigation of their deaths through an Italian law firm, and continues to press for answers.

“On this day, 29 May 2019, we in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs got word that Mr Alrae Ramsey, one of our own, had been reported as having been found in distressing circumstances,” the statement read.

“And mere moments later, the news reached us that he had passed. Moreover, short days later, the same news reached us about Dr. Blair John, his high school and college friend.

In a later interview, Director General of Foreign Affairs Sharon Brennen Haylock explained the statement was referring to Ramsey being reported missing.

The statement continued: “From that first notification, the entire ministry became engaged with this disconcerting concern. The government of The Bahamas has been and remains fully engaged in the investigation of the case, the outcome of which, to date, has not brought a sense of satisfaction or closure to the families, friends or to the government. The Bahamas government, through the engagement of an Italian law firm, continues to press the Italian government for answers as to the cause of their untimely deaths.”

The tragic deaths of the two young men sent shockwaves through the country.

Ramsey was on study leave and in Turin on break.

Blair had traveled to Italy to deliver a presentation and was scheduled to meet up with Ramsey, who was a former classmate and friend.

The MOFA statement read: “On this day, we remember Alrae and appreciate that his life was short, but we know that he served his purpose in the grand scheme of things, particularly in the way he made an impression on his surroundings. His future with us was bright. To a person, we say that it was a privilege to have known him and to have worked with him.

“We also remember Dr. Blair John. Although his life was not immediately connected to the ministry, he and Alrae had many mutual friends in the ministry. Dr. John will be remembered as a person who was God fearing and well-rounded, excelling not only in academics, but also in sports on a national and international level. Both young men left a legacy of being ‘Gentlemen and Scholars’.”

The ministry added: “We had an opportunity to meet again with their mothers, Alrae’s sister and Blair’s father last week to address important administrative matters, and we take this opportunity to extend to both families our heartfelt condolences on a sad and painful anniversary.

“We will keep Alrae and Blair and their families in our thoughts always. We ask that all Bahamians and their friends to do likewise.”

An initial forensic medical examination indicated the men were in the river for two to three days, according to international reports.

Autopsies were performed on both men on June 10.

According to Italian media reports, the initial findings of the autopsy, performed by coroner Paola Rapetti, indicated the men drowned.

A toxicological examination was also performed.

Italian news outlets reported the results of this exam revealed only traces of alcohol were found in their blood.