Health ministry refutes allegations death was linked to his posting to the storm-ravaged island
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) officer went into cardiac arrest three days after he was stationed in Abaco.
RBDF Petty Officer Scott Wallace died at Doctors Hospital on Wednesday after he was airlifted to the capital.
Wallace, 42, worked in the engineering department and had been deployed to Abaco on September 20.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Health pointed to misleading reports “replete with reckless and untrue assertions, and allegations”, insisting there was no evidence that Wallace’s death was linked to his posting in Abaco, and exposure to the environment, air or water.
According to the ministry, Wallace went into cardiac arrest and was presented to the Marsh Harbour Clinic around 6 pm on Tuesday. ”An autopsy will be conducted to confirm the exact cause of death and the relation to his known chronic medical illnesses, which were evident at the time of his presentation,” read the statement.
“Mr. Wallace’s medical history will remain confidential.”
According to the ministry, 17 other RBDF and Royal Bahamas Police Force officers were examined “out of an abundance of caution”.
Of that group, one officer had symptoms of a rash and respiratory symptoms.
“There is no specific or generalized risk of inhabitation in Abaco,” the ministry said.
“It is safe for officers of the RBPF, RBDF, other civil servants and the general population. The MOH and our partner agencies, including PAHO (Pan-American Health Organization), continues to monitor the islands and have discovered no quarantinable illnesses or hazards that threaten the populations attempting to return to their homes and businesses.
The statement added: “We find that this reckless and irresponsible claim distracts from the everyday efforts of all positive minded individuals and we remind the public not to share such ‘reports’ unless from a reputable and credible source.
For its part, the RBDF said Wallace was a dedicated marine who joined the ranks on October 26, 1998.
Wallace served aboard the United States Coast Guard Training vessel GENTIAN, which had engaged in Maritime Law Enforcement throughout the Caribbean Basin. He also participated in the 2004 Tradewinds Military Exercise in the Dominican Republic and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the RBDF statement read.
“The Commander Defence Force, Commodore Tellis Bethel, extends sincerest condolences on behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned, and Junior Marines of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and himself to the late Petty Officer Wallace’s wife: Marguerite, and children: Chahan and Lillian, family, loved ones and friends. In a Facebook post, the Hawksbill Senior High School Class of 1994 extended condolences to Wallace’s family.
“This is a sad day for the academic arts class as we were more than classmates, we were a family,” said Denise Lewis. “We are proud of you. You’ve served our country well. Take your rest for Jesus knows best.”
Abaco has been likened to a war zone after Hurricane Dorian decimated the islands on September 1-3.
At last report, 900 RBDF and RBPF officers were deployed to Grand Bahama and Abaco to provide stability to the islands following the storm.